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31st Jan 2018

Joel Matip breaks Liverpool Premier League record during Huddersfield win

Matthew Gault

As steady as it gets.

Liverpool’s last two games have brought with them wildly contrasting fortunes. After a disastrous FA Cup exit at the hands of West Brom at Anfield on Saturday night, the Reds got back to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 win over Huddersfield on Tuesday.

Goals from Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah via the penalty spot sealed three points for Jurgen Klopp’s men, with the result pulling them five points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham – who host Manchester United tonight – and Arsenal in sixth, with the Gunners losing ground after a shock 3-1 defeat to Swansea. Liverpool are now level on points with Chelsea, with the Blues hosting Bournemouth on Wednesday night.

And while it was a productive night for Liverpool’s attackers, their defence was remarkably comfortable, too, 90 minutes of much-needed reprieve having been undone by an inspired Jay Rodriguez at the weekend.

David Wagner’s Terriers were toothless, failing to lay a glove on the Reds all night, as the visitors enjoyed 75% possession while completing 814 passes in comparison to Huddersfield’s 214. Huddersfield, just one point above the relegation zone, managed only one shot on target as their front two of Steven Mounie and Laurent Depoitre struggled to unnerve the not-always reliable Loris Karius in goal and Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip in defence.

Speaking of Matip, the totemic Cameroonian broke an interesting Liverpool record on Tuesday night. The 26-year-old endured a torrid evening against West Brom during which his own goal proved to be the match-winner for the Baggies, but was dependable and error-free against Huddersfield. But he perhaps didn’t expect to become a record-breaker, completing the most passes (161) in a single game by any Liverpool player in Premier League history.

Yes, we are aware football existed long before the Premier League’s inception in 1992 but handy statistics like these did not (well, they weren’t readily available anyway). Matip has completed more passes than any other Liverpool player this season, too, with 1369. Of course, the vast majority of his passes involve shifting the ball out to the full-backs or to a deep-lying midfielder, but they are just as important in initiating attacks and maintaining Liverpool’s tempo.

Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi has the most passes for any defender in the Premier League this season with a whopping 2118, with Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta in second with almost 400 fewer than the Argentine.

Klopp will have been pleased that Matip was able to shake off his poor performance against West Brom with a more assured display at the John Smith’s Stadium on Tuesday. The German will certainly be hoping for more of the same as the Reds fight for a place in the top four.

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