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2021/22 Season Report Card - Joel Matip

Along with Virgil I’m probably Joel’s number one fan and have been for years. No-one loves him more than me, not even his own wife. I’ve said on numerous occasions he’s the best centre back in the world not named Van Dijk but I am definitely biased. He’s just great though isn’t he?


For the first half of the season I think he was our best centre half, but as the season wore on normal service was resumed and Virg became the top man again. Even I'll concede that. Joel has had to split his playing time with Ibou Konate which may have been a little frustrating for him at times but probably contributed to him going through the entire season injury free. Imagine that! No-one could have seen that coming given his chequered fitness record since coming here.


Credit for that must be given to the new fitness guy who joined last year with the mission of aiding recovery and injury prevention. It’s not just Joel that went injury free either. Oxlade-Chamberlain may not have been involved much but it isn’t because he’s been unavailable. He’s been fit for the whole season too. Naby Keita is another regular sick note who was fit for more or less the entire campaign, but the biggest success story on that front has undoubtedly been Matip. 


I’m fairly sure he was available for every single game this season and he’s been outstanding at both ends of the pitch. He’s contributed important goals and gave us one of the moments of the season when one of his famous ‘mazy ones’ (© Peter Crouch) resulted in a goal that almost blew the roof off the Kop, such was the delight and passion it was greeted with. He’s been threatening that for ages and I can’t wait to see him do it again.




He also scored vital goals against Villa and Southampton in the run in that kept the title race alive until the final day. He should score more but unfortunately he's got a head like a 50p. What a player though. And what a man. 


Last season we had no centre halves but this time around we’ve had everyone fit. Konate is really pushing Joel now for that spot alongside Virgil and there may be certain games when he’s the more logical choice because of his physicality and recovery speed. The Champions League Final being a case in point where Konate was selected for his speed against the counter attack threat of Vinicius Jr.


By and large though, when the biggest games come around I’d be looking to the experience and class of the man I affectionately refer to as “Big Bird” after the character from Sesame Street.



Previous Season Ratings:


2020/21:   Season doesn’t count

2019/20:   7.5/10

2018/19:   9/10

2017/18:   6/10 

2016/17:   7.5/10


This Season’s Rating: 10/10


He’s a ten and I’ll fight anyone who wants it.


Best Moment: 


Slapping everyone on the head and pissing Hendo off. Classic Joel.


Worst Moment:


Being left out of the Champions League final. Really harsh, but Konate was our best player so it was justified


The Future?


Probably a 50-50 split on starts with Konate.

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I thought he was our best defender for the majority of the season. 

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Good point about the work on fitness behind the scenes keeping many of our players injury free, and especially Joel, who we all thought was made of not very thick glass in seasons gone by. It appears the Zone7 system we apply has been worth it’s price and hopefully that’ll continue as it’ll be tested in the coming season.

Joel is just brilliant at times, he often looks as though he’s not got the ball under control, especially on the mazy runs we’ve seen recently, yet he rarely makes mistakes defensively, although his heading in front of goal from our corners could be improved!
Perfect foil for Virgil and although Konate might take over that position as he’s just a beast, it’s great to see Joel playing more now.



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One of the best centre backs in the world (Virg would say the best, such is the bromance!). His only real weakness is a lack of pace but, Sami-style, he reads the game brilliantly and has positional awareness in abundance. Having 2 other centre back options along with Virg has allowed Klopp to use Big Bird more sparingly, and that has helped with his fitness concerns.

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Zone7 system?


Is that a fancy word for inhaler?

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