Jürgen Klopp is hopeful Joël Matip will be fit to face Tottenham in Wednesday night’s top-two showdown after the defender was forced out of Liverpool’s draw with Fulham, as the champions missed the opportunity to go to the summit of the Premier League.
Jordan Henderson was pressed into action in central defence after Matip failed to come out for the second half at Craven Cottage, with Klopp later confirming the 29-year-old had suffered a back spasm. It was the latest blow for the Reds, who revealed before kick-off that Diogo Jota would be out for at least six weeks because of a knee injury the striker suffered in the Champions League last Wednesday.
On the field, Liverpool needed Mohamed Salah’s penalty to rescue a point after they had fallen behind to a goal from Bobby Decordova-Reid in the first half, with José Mourinho’s Tottenham still ahead in the table on goal difference after their 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.
Liverpool have not lost a league match at Anfield since April 2017 but, asked if there was a worse time to be facing the deadly Spurs duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min given his lack of defensive cover, Klopp said: “Probably not. But we aren’t struggling with numbers at centre-back – it’s just now they are getting younger and younger. Today we tried with Hendo so it’s situations like this. You have to find the solution but that is how football is.” On Matip’s chances of facing Spurs, he added: “We will see. He will get treatment so I think he has a chance.”
Liverpool could easily have found themselves further behind after a poor start and Klopp said the congested calendar is catching up with his players. “We are dealing with human beings and things like this happen. Yesterday all the teams that played in the Champions League had a tough one. It’s crazy. Maybe this was the weekend we felt it a little bit. In the first 30 minutes we were just not good. We could have lost the game in that period.”
Henderson, the captain, added: “We didn’t get going until after the first 30 minutes. You can’t do that in the Premier League or you get punished – like we did. The good thing is we reacted well. We dominated and should have scored one or two more. I’m disappointed with the start, pleased with the reaction.”
Scott Parker acknowledged his Fulham team felt disappointed despite holding the champions to a draw. “In the last three games, against Leicester, Manchester City and Liverpool, I don’t think anyone would have given us a chance,” he said. “But we’ve got four points that people wouldn’t have believed. We came out of the blocks flying today. We showed our quality. We can play.”