Ah, the boxing day(ish) fixtures. It is a time of joy and holiday cheer. A time of togetherness and positivity. Or summat. Instead, we got more injuries and a heavy dose of Sam Allardyce.
It started before the match even kicked off, as it was announced that Naby Keita would miss out yet again with a “fitness issue”. Then, during the game, Joel Matip pulled up in the second half, and immediately signaled to the sideline. He was substituted off for young Rhys Williams, and went directly down the tunnel to the dressing room.
After the game, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gave a brief update on the pair.
“Joel told me he felt something in his adductor and that’s obviously not too good,” said Klopp. “I am not sure how serious it is now, but it was serious enough that he had to leave the pitch. The rest of the information I will get tomorrow.”
As far as Keita, it seems he has had yet another soft tissue injury.
“He felt a muscle again,” said Klopp of the midfielder. “I don’t know exactly how long, but he was not ready for today and not for Wednesday, I think. We will see.”
These two players have caused frustration and consternation for Liverpool fans over the last couple of years, leading me to deem them part of team #NeverFit. Both players have displayed wonderful skill, and played important roles when they have managed to get on the field. In fact, Matip provided the assist for Sadio Mane in the first half, Matip’s second assist from the center back position in two games. Unfortunately, it seems neither can be trusted to stay fit for any length of time.
While it is frustrating that both players are yet again on the injury list, lets hope they are both able to return sooner rather than later. Liverpool are finally starting to get some depth back in the midfield department, but Matip’s injury highlights just how much Liverpool need to add depth in the center back position.
With both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez likely out for the rest of the season, and Matip perpetually going on and off the injury list, the team has been left with holding midfielder Fabinho as their most consistent player at the position. The only other depth are Nat Phillips, who is likely destined for a lower tier Premier League or Championship level squad, or teenagers Rhys Williams and Billy Koumetio. Somehow the squad has managed to churn out enough results in a weird year so that Liverpool are in the top spot of the league. To sustain a challenge for the rest of the season, however, they likely need to have a more consistent center back pairing, and preferably one where both players are old enough to shave.