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Highlights on Off The Ball


Joel Matip is vital for Liverpool's defence - Harriett Prior

Liverpool need to keep Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk healthy together if they are to solve their defensive problems.

The Anfield Wrap's Harriett Prior joined The Football Show on Wednesday to discuss Joel Matip.

Liverpool played a solid game against Ajax at home in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Joel Matip scored the winner in a 2-1 victory. Matip and Virgil van Dijk couldn't keep a clean sheet together, but the goal that was scored was a spectacular one. The ball rifled in off the crossbar while Matip stood in tight marking of the attacker.

It made a significant difference from the problems that Liverpool have dealt with recently.

Matip gave the back four a consistency and awareness of what was happening at all times. Unlike Joe Gomez, he wasn't prone to mistakes and unlike Nat Philips, he has the physical attributes to play at this level.

Liverpool need Matip to stay healthy, according to Harriett Prior.

"I think Gomez had a really difficult few games," Prior said.

"So it was key that someone else was able to come in and step in. Matip is exactly that person. I think there are two different sides to his game that are so important to Liverpool. And one is those defensive duties and the sense of experience, and calmness that he brings to that defence alongside Virgil van Dijk.

"Their partnership is really just so solid."

In home games, Liverpool often find themselves with excess levels of possession and require their defenders to be incisive. Matip isn't a great passer in the sense that he won't split a defence with a pass. But he does consistently bring the ball out from the back when given space to do so.

That makes him and Van Dijk an ideal pairing because Van Dijk is an outstanding passer.

"And also that attacking flair that he has as well. He was the goalscorer, he got the winning goal last night [against Ajax in the Champions League group stages]. But also the way he gets the ball and has a quick look up to see if anything is on. If not he takes it himself and runs forward. And drives forward with the ball.

"That's a side of his game I absolutely love. Definitely a key figure and hopefully one we can keep fit for the rest of the season."

Trent Alexander-Arnold must look inside to get better.


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Read more about

Ajax Joe Gomez Joel Matip Liverpool Virgil Van Dijk