It has been a great show in the Premier League so far, with few summer signings defying the odds to adapt seamlessly to the English style of football. Liverpool centre-half Joel Matip is one of such few standouts.
Since arriving on a free transfer from Schalke 04 this summer, he has hit the ground running at Anfield and has come out tops with his battles against some of the best strikers and forwards in the league.
But how does he compare with Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld – one of the best centre backs in the league?
Matip, just like the Belgian defender has played 8 league games this season for the Reds. Coincidentally, the 25-year-old made his EPL debut against Tottenham, and has played all full minutes ever since (720). With him in the lineup, Liverpool have won 6 games and drawn 2. He has a goal to his name and created 2 chances.
Defensively, while establishing a perfect relationship with Dejan Lovren, the club hasn’t been all that perfect at the back. In 8 games, Liverpool have conceded 8 goals, keeping only a clean sheet. He has entered the referee’s black book once, averaged 0.5 shots per game, 87% pass accuracy and has won 1.6 aerial duels.
Furthermore, Matip has averaged 8 defensive actions per game, 21metres pass length and 33% shot accuracy. He is yet to make a defensive error and displayed his calmness whenever he is on the ball and bringing it out from the back.
Before his injury against West Brom and subsequent stretchering off, Alderweireld had played 690 minutes of Premier League football, with Tottenham undefeated in all having won 5 games, drawn 3 and kept 4 clean sheets. His solid presence at the back has seen Spurs concede just 4 times until the end of the West Brom clash, and all came from set pieces.
The 27-year-old has created just a chance and has no goal/assist to his name. On a per-game ratio, he averages 1.3 shots, makes 82.3% pass accuracy and wins 1.1 of his aerial duels.
Alderweireld has averaged 9 defensive actions per game, 27 meters pass length and 38% shot accuracy. He is also without a defensive error and hasn’t been booked in all the 8 games he has appeared in, highlighting his ability to play fairly despite defending with impeccable alertness and solidness.
Following the Belgian’s absence from Tottenham’s rearguard, the north London side conceded their 1st goal from open play of the season against Leicester City last weekend. And with the north London derby going down on Sunday, Mauricio Pochettino would be left to rue missing such important player who brings assured stability at the back.
Has he been a better centre back than Liverpool’s Matip? The Cameroonian has proven to be the complete package, able to constitute a goal threat at set pieces on the other end of the pitch, while also effective in neutralizing attacking threats at the back.
Both have almost all the same qualities and level of expertise as far as putting in a great job defensively is concerned, and it’s definitely a close call determining who is better or who has been better thus far.
However, considering the goal security Alderweireld offered Tottenham before getting injured, and how Matip wasn’t able to inspire his side from shipping in that much within the timeframe, the Belgian comes out slightly on top in this battle.