The Class of 2018/19 is a short series in which, ahead of the new season starting on Friday, The Anfield Talk contributors review the 2018/19 season’s of Liverpool’s squad.
Here is @EmreCanderson, reviewing Joel Matip’s season…
Joel Matip has been an interesting player for Liverpool so far. Signed on a free transfer from the German league in the summer of 2016, he came in with plenty of hype.
Initially, I thought, he lived up to the hype. A strong defender, a good passer of the ball, calm with it at his feet. After months of Mamadou Sakho, he was a welcome arrival.
However, as time wore on his performances got worse and small gripes about his game started to creep in. He didn’t seem a particularly aggressive or strong defender, despite his height, his heading was appalling, with him seemingly having no control over which direction the ball flew off in. His positioning also hasn’t always been the greatest, and he’s had a penchant for giving the ball away.
I’ve been a critic of his. A big critic. I once described him as a ‘great big skinny bag of shite’, which, whilst harsh, wasn’t inaccurate at the time. I’ve preferred Dejan Lovren over him because even though Lovren has a horror show in him every once in a while, I always thought that his top performances were better than Matip’s. Especially at the start of 2018/19 I thought this was the case, and in my mind Matip was the fourth choice centre half.
However, as the season wore on and both Lovren and Gomez were sidelined through injury – something else that Matip’s partial to – a new centre half partnership was born. Matip and van Dijk seemed to work well together, with performances getting better and better as the season wore on, and the duo forming a formidable partnership.
As we head into the 2019/20 season the question as to who should partner Virgil van Dijk was asked. Joe Gomez had always been the answer, and it felt like as soon as he returned from injury he’d slot back in at centre half. However, with Matip’s strong end to the season, that may well not be the case anymore.
Joel Matip – from a great big skinny bag of shite to a great big skinny bag of more than alright.