Joel Matip explains focus of Liverpool meeting and Kirkby training after chastening Napoli defeat

·4-min read
Joel-Matip press conference September 2022 Credit: PA Images
Joel-Matip press conference September 2022 Credit: PA Images

Centre-back Joel Matip has revealed that Liverpool’s focus since the 4-1 mauling by Napoli in the Champions League has been defending and togetherness.

The 31-year-old did not state in Naples last Wednesday but he did replace Joe Gomez at half-time. Gomez was badly exposed at centre-back and he also made a number of mistakes which forced Jurgen Klopp into drastic action.

The Reds were already 3-0 down when Matip arrived and it could have been worse after a dreadful first 45 minutes in the south of Italy.

Matip did help steady the ship in the second half. But his display did little to save face from an awful night. And he stated he is hoping to start at Anfield.

“I am fit, I played 45 minutes in the last game. I feel good and I am ready to start the game,” said Matip.

Klopp has said it was the worst performance in his seven years at the club. The German coach referenced “horrors” from the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona clash and has said it was worse that the 7-2 debacle at Aston Villa two years ago.

Incidentally, it was the same back four in both games. Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold lined up in both defeats, although Adrian was in goal at Villa Park and Alisson played in Italy.

It’s that back four who have been under the microscope this season after conceding six goals in six Premier League games.

“Of course there were not a lot of happy faces [after Napoli],” said Matip at Monday’s press conference.

“Everyone was criticising themselves and not happy with their performance. We had a big focus on defending [after the game].

“We have to go back to our roots and our basics.

“And we need to lead, we need to talk to each other and we need to help each other. We need to help our team-mates. If you can help them, you should do it.

Matip: ‘We have to talk’

“We only get out of this as a team. And we are Liverpool and we want to play as much as possible. We just tried to perform and that is why we’re here. It is not always comfortable but we just try to perform.

“We have to improve, we have to work and we have to talk.

“Sometimes [a meeting] helps and we can speak about this group, sometimes you don’t like to hear the truth at some moments but everyone knows we need to improve and work on these things.

“It starts with defending – we need to expect that we will suffer tomorrow night. We want to be there from the first second – we have to fight and that is how we will get back on track.

“He’s still there and wants to make us the best team we can be.”

Meanwhile, left-back Andy Robertson has been ruled out with a problem until after the international break.

The defender sustained a problem late on in Naples.

Klopp clarifies injury situation

“Robbo now is not 100 per cent. (He felt something) very late, 93rd or whatever minute – actually he felt it the next day only,” said boss Klopp.

“But yeah, he is out for at least, I would say, after the international break.”

Klopp also clarified the position with midfielder Naby Keita, who was called up by Guinea despite still being injured.

“No, I don’t expect him to go on international duty,” added the Reds boss, who also said Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was in a similar position prognosis-wise.

“The expected return date is somewhere in October, that’s why we had to make the decision.

“With Ox it is the same and that’s why the two boys are not in the Champions League squad because of their expected return.

“It can differ a little bit. But we had to make the decision now or last week and that’s why we made the decision.”

READ MORE: The five Liverpool players that could leave the club on a free transfer in 2023: Firmino, Keita…

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