Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Matip's positioning leads to a Newcastle goal and a Liverpool red card

August 28, 2023 — Joel Matip’s poor positioning played a major role in both Newcastle’s first goal and the red card challenge by Virgil Van Dijk that should have cost Liverpool the game.

Figure 1.1 - Joel Matip heads the ball to Mohamed Salah.
Figure 1.2 - Mohamed Salah passes back to Trent Alexander-Arnold as Anthony Gordon attempts to intercept the pass.
Figure 1.3 - A different angle of Figure 1.2.

Joel Matip is positioned forward to head the ball, but he never tracks back to cover the space behind Trent Alexander-Arnold. He seems like a deer in headlights. He heads the ball and then becomes a statue.

Figure 1.4 - Trent Alexander-Arnold lets it slip by him, and Anthony Gordon is in on goal.

Yes, this is a mistake by Trent, but if Matip is behind or in the process of moving behind Trent, then Gordon wouldn’t have a clean run on goal. Virgil Van Dijk keeps Gordon onside.

Figure 2.1 - Anthony Gordon plays the ball to Alexander Isak.

Again, Matip is positioned forward. I’m not sure what or who he is attempting to mark, but he just wanders forward, leaving space behind.

Van Dijk again follows his man but doesn’t attempt an offside trap.

Figure 2.2 - Joel Matip squares his body to the ball.

When the ball is played to Isak, Matip then turns his body to face the ball like an NPC in a video game waiting for the next dialogue prompt.

Matip is not of help to stop Isak, and he now leaves Joelinton free behind him.

Figure 2.3 - Virgil Van Dijk takes Alexander Isak out, receiving a red card for the challenge.

If Matip positioned himself better on the play, maybe Virgil Van Dijk wouldn’t have to go to the extreme measure to make sure Isak is taken out so he doesn’t have a clear run on goal.

With Virgil Van Dijk suspended due to this red card and Ibrahima Konate injured, Joel Matip will need to step up his game. I’d like to see him sit a bit deeper than Joe Gomez to help cover up his positional deficiencies.

Figure 3.1 - Match Week 3 - Zone Control by [@egudi_analysis on Twitter](https://x.com/egudi_analysis/status/1695957365693001906?s=46&t=YC8lQJTh43E_mBQW40Ct2g).

Liverpool’s next opponent, Aston Villa, did a good job attacking Burnley’s left-hand side on the weekend. The matchup between Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, and Ollie Watkins will be one to watch.

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