Joel Matip makes worrying scheduling admission

Joel Matip has conceded that participating in the Europa League on a Thursday night and playing in the Premier League on Sundays is 'not the best combination', as he discussed Liverpool's new schedule.

It's safe to say that the Reds' 2022/23 season was one to forget. Not only were Jurgen Klopp's side knocked out of all of the cup competitions early, but they were also dismal in the league, resulting in the club missing out on Champions League football for the first time since 2015/16.

However, Liverpool aren't out of Europe entirely this season.

The Europa League is the only trophy Klopp is yet to win since becoming Reds boss and even if the general consensus is that Europe's second-tier competition isn't one that should be prioritised, this thought wouldn't have even crossed the 56-year-old's head as he looks to add to his impressive trophy hall and the legacy he has built in Merseyside.

But with the positives of a new challenge comes the negatives of the associated gruelling fixture list that will no doubt soon start to play its part, and Matip is the latest Liverpool player to comment on the challenges the competition can bring to the Reds' domestic hopes.

He said: "Playing on Thursday night and Sunday afternoons is not the best combination, but a lot of teams do it and so should we. We are used to playing in midweek so this is not new for us, but of course it means there are always just two days in between whenever we play in the Europa League.

"There's not a lot of time to prepare for the weekend game as there will always be more time needed on recovery. But we all want to play European football and therefore we are ready to give it our all."

Despite the reduced recovery time, the Reds have yet to feel the impact of the tough Thursday-Sunday scheduling that the Europa League brings – having taken maximum points in the competition, while sitting just three points from the top of the Premier League.

Matip continued: "Points-wise our start to the season is not too bad, but performance-wise over the 90-plus minutes we've not been completely where we want to be. At the end we have often turned it around and it's good to know that we still have the quality to do that. As a defender, though, I hope that we can keep some clean sheets and still win the games.

READ MORE: Liverpool's next five games assessed ahead of Merseyside derby

"Last season was not our best but we have tried to improve. We tried to work harder directly from the beginning of pre-season to have a good start and the base for a good and successful season. Everybody has to play their part. Everybody has to be hungry and has to stay hungry. You have to work hard in every metre of the pitch to get a result."

Following the international break, Liverpool return to action on Saturday lunchtime, and it's a big one.

The Reds host Everton at Anfield for the first Merseyside derby of the season and – even if you ignore the fact that Klopp's side have picked up one point from their last two games – this match is simply a must win.

Share This Article