Joël Matip has, in less than half a season, shown himself to be Liverpool’s defensive anchor; their key centre half. He is the man who orchestrates the defence, and as he grew more settled in his role and accustomed to his teammates, Liverpool’s defence had steadily improved.
Three clean sheets on the trot following one goal conceded against Watford made for an impressive November showing for the club, one in which the Reds outscored their opponents 10-1, fuelling an uptick in title dreams amongst fans everywhere. Then, Matip suffered an ankle injury.
He missed the match against Bournemouth and Liverpool collapsed late in the second half, conceding three goals over the final 15 minutes plus stoppage time and in the end losing the game 4-3. The good news is that it appears that one game will be all Matip misses.
The imposing 25-year-old Cameroonian international was spotted training in Barcelona today. He had joined the first team on their trip to Spain, a short mid-season, warm weather training camp during the only full week break the club are likely to have through the end of January.
However, it wasn’t clear he would take part, and there were some fears he might not be ready to take on West Ham on Sunday. Those fears now appear baseless. Matip has trained with five days to go until the match. He is expected to take part. And everyone breathes a little calmer.