Liverpool were without summer signing Joel Matip in their 4-3 defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday, proving how crucial he is to their success.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were 3-1 up at the Vitality Stadium as they looked to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea, but capitulated and fell to a shock loss.
Not for the first time were their defensive frailties brought to light, and while it remains to be seen how active the Reds are in January, it is most likely to be the one area of their squad that lets them down in the title race.
As noted by Sky Sports, Matip has featured in 11 Premier League games so far this season, helping Liverpool win eight of those outings while collecting three draws and losing none.
Take Matip out of Klopp’s line-up and it’s a completely different story as the Reds have won just one of the three games he’s been absent for and have lost the other two.
That sees their points per game average nosedive from 2.45 to 1.00, and as witnessed on Sunday, his defensive presence and leadership at the back is sorely missed beyond the stats too.
Klopp will be desperate to have him back as soon as possible as the injuries at Anfield start to mount with Philippe Coutinho also out until the New Year.
With no real solution to his problem at his disposal at this point, Matip’s return will be crucial while the possibility of taking action in the January transfer window could also be a route that Liverpool choose to explore provided a suitable target is available.
Nevertheless, having now fallen four points adrift of Chelsea, Liverpool will need to produce a response at home against West Ham United this weekend.