Liverpool have been given a boost ahead of their upcoming Premier League clash with the news that Joel Matip has returned to training.
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The club’s official website liverpoolfc.com reported that the Cameroon defender resumed training at Melwood on Tuesday morning, having being sidelined for two matches prior to the international break after incurring a knock in last month’s win at Sheffield United.
That could provide Reds manager Jurgen Klopp with a timely boost as the league leaders prepare to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
This time last year, Matip was struggling for gametime at Liverpool, having started just one of their first 14 league games in 2018/19.
However, he was named in the first XI for 14 of their final 16 league matches last term and had started six Premier League games in a row prior to missing the win against Leicester earlier this month.
The 28-year-old had been in impressive form before his recent injury, with match averages of six successful aerial duels, 5.2 clearances, 1.8 successful tackles and 1.7 interceptions so far this season. [via WhoScored]
No Liverpool player has won more aerial duels per game in the Premier League in 2019/20, while only two of Matip’s team-mate have averaged more clearances or tackles per game, and only Dejan Lovren has a higher interceptions per game average. [via WhoScored]
Matip’s stellar performances have come in for recognition from a few quarters, with BBC pundit Ian Wright saying on Match of the Day [via Liverpool Echo] after the Reds’ victory over Sheffield United that he was “absolutely brilliant” on the day – seven successful aerial duels and an 89.8% passing success rate back up Wright’s opinion.
In the lead-up to that game, Klopp described the Cameroon defender’s arrival on a free transfer in 2016 as “one of the best pieces of business we ever did” [via The Guardian]. Having given Matip 107 games for the club, the manager has shown enough faith in the 28-year-old for that to be more than just empty rhetoric.
The Cameroon defender’s return will be most welcome, given his excellent statistics so far this term and the Reds’ ability to keep just three clean sheets in all competitions. If he is back in time for a traditionally tough visit to Old Trafford, where the Reds have won just twice in their last 15 league visits, all the better.
Liverpool fans, how big a boost would it be if Matip is back for the trip to Manchester United on Sunday? Give us your thoughts by commenting below!
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