Liverpool cemented their reputation as a growing force in the Premier League with a quite impressive 2-1 win over Chelsea away from home. Jurgen Klopp may be grabbing all the headlines with his wild celebrations, but he has quite calmly changed the way Liverpool play their football. Just like their 4-1 win over Leicester City, a strong start to the game laid the foundations for this victory. There were some impressive performances across the pitch for the Merseyside outfit, and defender Joel Matip was one of them even though the team was unable to keep a clean sheet.
Dejan Lovren may have grabbed the headlines with his goal, but Matip was crucial in keeping Diego Costa quiet throughout the game. Of course, Costa did score his fifth goal of the season but it came from one of the rare moments of misjudgement from the Cameroonian in the game. Matip went down far too early in order to get the ball off Nemanja Matic, who entered the box with a slippery run, and this allowed the Serbian to pick his pass to Costa with precision. The goal conceded, though, was only a consolation at the end of 90 minutes.
Matip was highly successful at being able to resist the high pressing game from Chelsea in the second half. He had an average pass accuracy of 95% – significantly better than Lovren’s 82% – while also making three successful tackles. Incidentally, the number of tackles was only behind Lovren’s four in the entire match. Matip also managed one fewer victories in terms of aerial duels (2) than the former Southampton defender. The fact that he had to contend with Costa – one of the inform strikers in the Premier League – and still come out on top more often than not is a testament to his quality already.
When playing the high-intensity game, it is imperative to maintain a very high pass accuracy even if it is a defender. On the contrary, when the opposition are pressing high, it is important for those defenders to avoid being dispossessed. Matip performed both with a commanding level of accuracy and it is likely to see him instilled as a permanent partner to Lovren, should such performances continue. Jurgen Klopp is no stranger to the 25-year-old after having come across him – as an opposition – on numerous times during their times in Bundesliga. He could become a great spot from the manager if he continues on the vein of form.