For a team that struggled to keep the ball out of their own net last year, Liverpool sure have been indifferent towards their centre-back depth. The well-publicized failure to capture Virgil van Dijk in the summer was compounded by Jürgen Klopp shipping out Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva, leaving Joël Matip, Dejan Lovren, and Ragnar Klavan as the team’s only senior options at the position.
Young Joe Gomez was always a bit of a wildcard, given his injury record and lack of top-flight experience in central defense, and with Nathaniel Clyne missing the first half of the season to a back injury, the 20-year old has been forced to spend the majority of his playing time at the right fullback spot.
Three options for two spots in a 50+ game season was always a risky proposition, and the threat was further exacerbated by the club’s spotty injury record in recent years. Predictably, two of the three have already missed game time through injury — before the onset of the merciless holiday programme, even — and Matip stayed home with a thigh strain while his teammates turned a win into a draw against Sevilla in midweek.
With Chelsea looming on the immediate horizon, Klopp was handed a boost today, as the former Schalke man returned to full training. Whether Matip starts against Conte’s crew on Saturday remains to be seen, but with the club currently in a stretch of 13 matches in 44 days, having the Cameroonian in contention could prove crucial.
Adam Lallana also looks set for a place in the squad on the weekend, and the Reds seem to be finding their health at just the right time. One can only hope the trend continues.