Tottenham v Liverpool: Match in pictures
Liverpool have been backed by Jermaine Jenas to remain patient in the transfer market and wait until the summer to sign a centre-back to strengthen their ranks despite their crisis at the back. The Reds lined up with their 11th different centre-half partnership in 20 Premier League games against Tottenham on Thursday night with Fabinho absent due to a minor muscle problem and had to field their 12th in the second half after Joel Matip succumbed to injury.
Jordan Henderson started a third straight top-flight match in the back-line and was joined by the returning Matip, who missed the FA Cup defeat at Manchester United on Sunday after playing against Burnley the previous Thursday.
With Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez battling to play again this season, Jurgen Klopp would ideally like to use the duo as his go-to partnership with Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams’ weaknesses having been exposed of late.
But Matip and Fabinho’s injury issues have meant another central midfielder, captain Henderson, has had to be relied upon at the back. And the Cameroonian had to be forced off at half-time in the win over Spurs due to ankle ligament damage with Phillips replacing him at the interval.
Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis has seen a widespread number off calls for the Premier League champions to make a last-minute move before the January window closes this coming Monday.
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Yet Jenas believes Liverpool’s hierarchy are deliberately holding off from making a mid-season addition because they have a plan to wait and land a long-term target who may not currently be attainable when the summer window opens.
Last season City finished 18 points behind Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp and co took the crown off Pep Guardiola’s side, with the failure to replace Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte’s injury issues critical.
Summer signing Ruben Dias, alongside the in-form John Stones, have meant this season that City boast the best defensive record in the division and look on course to be crowned champions for the third time in four years.
Speaking on BT Sport, Jenas said: “The only thing I would say, you put yourself in Klopp’s shoes, looking at it from the outside. In his mind he’s thinking, ‘Do I rush into something or do I find a good stopgap?’
“Two of them getting injured is a problem. I can honestly say that if I was him I would have been quite happy knowing that Matip and Fabinho can fill in for me and that I can go out and find the one that I want, a bit like Man City did with Ruben Dias.
“They were patient and had to wait for the one they wanted. Yes they got Nathan Ake and it’s not quite worked out for them but they got the one they wanted in the end [in Dias].
“Maybe Liverpool and Klopp are thinking like that, maybe they’ve got an eye on someone they’ve got to wait for.”
Former United centre-back Ferdinand however responded to Jenas: “But that means you’re sacrificing this season then in some way, shape or form.
“Does he think he’s actually going to get through this season and still win the league with the inexperience of Phillips and Williams?”
Jenas replied: “If he’s got Matip and Fabinho at the back, you don’t think that’s enough?”
To which Ferdinand then said: “Matip, injury. He’s always had injuries before and he doesn’t manage to stay fit for a good amount of time.
“Fabinho is picking up injuries now as well. Where does that leave them?”
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Former Tottenham and Newcastle midfielder Jenas insists it is however not easy for Liverpool to buy a central defender who can transform their fortunes this month.
He said: “You’ve still got to go and find that gem in January. That gem that everybody’s after whether it’s Upamecano or any of the other centre-halves that are out there, everybody wants them.
“Chelsea are in the market for a centre-half. Everybody’s in the market for a centre-half.”
But Ferdinand believes that they do not need to chase a high-profile addition and that a cheaper deal for a player to temporarily come into the side would suffice.
“I’m not sitting here and saying you’re going to get your A-class main centre-back right now but there must be some sort of stopgap somewhere to fill that void,” he declared.
“You’re saying now they’ll play with a central midfield partnership at centre-back or two very inexperience players.”
Asked earlier this week if there is a possibility Liverpool will make a signing before the window closes, Klopp said: “Not really – no not really.
“I would not say absolutely 100 per cent [there will not be a new signing], but no but I don’t expect anything to be honest.”
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