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Joel Matip Leaves Liverpool Facing Defensive Nightmare

Joel Matip Leaves Liverpool Facing Defensive Nightmare
By Gavin Cooney
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The first Virgil led Dante through hell; his namesake may have to guide Liverpool through worse.

As Liverpool head into The Busy Christmas Period, their defence is threadbare beyond Van Dijk. The injury-prone Joel Matip broke his collarbone against Napoli last night, and thus faces six weeks on the sidelines. That's a similar lay-off to the one recently started by Joe Gomez, who was stretchered off against Burnley the week before.

That leaves Liverpool with two fit centre-backs, Virgil Van Dijk and Dejan Lovren, who returned from a concussion injury in a chaotic three-minute cameo against Napoli last night. For all of their buttressing squad depth over the summer, this is a similar situation that faced Liverpool on their run to the Champions League final: the only alternative to Van Dijk and Lovren being untested Academy products.

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This led to a promotion to the bench for Irishman Conor Masterson last season, but over pre-season, he fell behind Nat Phillips in the pecking order.

Klopp must pray no ill befalls Lovren or Van Dijk in the coming weeks: by the time Matip and Gomes return, Liverpool will have played eight games, which include the visits of Man United and Arsenal to Anfield along with the enormous trip to City on January 3rd.

Liverpool are also facing problems at right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold is having a scan on a foot injury sustained last night amid fears he will miss the visit of Sunday. Liverpool's other right-back options - Gomez and Nathaniel Clyne - are both injured, while James Milner, who filled that role in last Saturday's game with Bournemouth, left the Napoli game with cramp. Another option in that role is Fabinho, who has played there on occasion for Monaco.

Nonetheless, it is concerning for Klopp: United targeted Liverpool's right-back position to great effect in a 2-1 win at Old Trafford earlier this year.

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See Also: Leigh Griffiths Takes Break From Football To Deal With Personal Issues

 

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