Joel Matip

During the international break, Joel Matip sat down with Liverpool media to discuss their aims for the season, and the impact that fans have on the players.

The Cameroonian star threw down the gauntlet to other clubs, backing his side to come out on top by saying:

“I think we are in good shape and we don’t have to be afraid of any team, but we have to play our football 100 per cent.

“It will be an intense and interesting season and we have a really good team. If we play at our 100 per cent level, we can beat everyone.”

Liverpool finished third last time out, behind both Manchester clubs, but largely thanks to some wretched luck on the injury front that saw all of their first choice centre backs pick up season ending injuries.

This time around, Matip is sure that the club can do better, despite the fact that both Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane will be high profile departures for the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

Fans play a key role
Matip was quick to explain his reasoning, pinpointing the fans at Anfield, who have inspired so many historic results, as a crucial difference this time around:

“Last season we played in empty stadiums, but now the fans are back in we can just enjoy football again.

“Playing in empty stadiums is something different. Of course it is still football, but it feels different. It feels more like football when the supporters are there. It gives us extra strength.

“When I scored [against Arsenal at Anfield in 2019] it was a completely different experience to celebrate the goal with the supporters around me than when the stadium was almost empty [for his goal against Wolves last season when 2,000 fans were allowed in]. It makes it more special.

“It is great being back in our stadium playing home Premier League games and trying to make the best out of having our fans back.”

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