Liverpool are in need of a lift after last Sunday’s disappointing 4-3 loss to Bournemouth despite racing into a 3-1 lead with 15 minutes to go.
And on Friday Joel Matip delivered an early Christmas present for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool fans with the news he will not be joining up with his Cameroon teammates next month as they jet off to the African Cup of Nations; he instead will stay with the Anfield side as they aim to win their first league title in 27 years.
According to The Sun, the 25-year-old ex-Schalke defender, who has been an outstanding addition to Klopp’s side this campaign, has decided to continue his international exile after not competing for his home nation since 2015.
This will ease the headache of losing Sadio Mane for the tournament, as he represents Senegal. Matip’s absence for last weekend’s deflating defeat to the Cherries highlighted Liverpool’s dependence on the defender and no doubt Matip’s decision to stay could determine how far Liverpool go in this season’s title race.
Speaking on Sky Sports, as reported in the Daily Mirror, ex-Reds defender Jamie Carragher slammed the defending last Sunday as Matip watched from the stands.
“Liverpool have been involved in this a lot. It was no surprise.
“Don’t forget Arsenal earlier this season, Norwich last season, the panic sets in.
“This has been a common theme for the last two to three years. You have to look at the personnel and also the two managers.
“There’s 15 minutes to go but they don’t change or make a defensive substitution. Just alter the way you play.”
While many Liverpool fans will be gutted over the absence, through injury, of Philippe Coutinho for the busy couple of months ahead, the decision of Matip to stay could prove to be more crucial.
Damien McEvoy Pundit Arena