In a crucial and busy run of games, players returning from injury provide a huge boost to Premier League clubs. Ahead of the first Merseyside derby of the season, Liverpool fans will be delighted that both Joël Matip and Emre Can have been passed fit to face Everton this evening.
If Matip is fit, he start. Ragnar Klavan was a calming influence in the second half against West Ham United and continued to impress against Middlesbrough. Dejan Lovren, though, is the first-choice partner for Matip in the heart of Liverpool's defence. For Can, however, a place on the bench will be the most likely outcome considering that Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson, and Georginio Wijnaldum have worked well together this season.
Matip has been described as "dominant" by Sami Hyypiä—a man well-versed in bringing calm to a Liverpool defence. Koop dismissed the possibility of surgery to tackle Matip’s curious ankle complaint, suggesting that rest has been and will be the solution to the problem. Composed players are needed in games of this profile, and with the exception of resident cyborg Nathaniel Clyne, no Liverpool defender comes close to Matip’s reliability.
Can has missed the last two games with a knee injury, but his presence creates a sense of depth in the midfield department. When Lallana, Wijnaldum, and Can are available, Klopp has three players for two slots either side of Henderson in a midfield three. It’s not a game that youngsters should be turned to in times of need, but at least Liverpool have more options in the squad to change things as require.