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Was Joel Matip's Early Substitution During Liverpool's Clash With Arsenal Tactical or Medical?

Joel Matip was withdrawn from the second leg of Liverpool's Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal at half-time. 

Matip has recently managed his most consistent run in the Reds' starting lineup, avoiding injury since June 2021 (bar COVID), solidifying his spot next to Virgil Van Dijk.

The centre back has become renowned for his marauding runs which break the lines of opposing midfields and is an important feature of Jurgen Klopp's side. 

Joel Matip dribbles past Harry Kane.

Joel Matip dribbles past Tottenham Hotspurs' Harry Kane.

A nervy first half saw the Reds enter the break 1-0 up with the Gunners knocking on the door of the Liverpool defence. 

In his post-match interview Klopp said: 'Against a strong Arsenal side, the first half was really...pretty lively. Second half was pretty similar.'

Nonetheless, the defence held strong and a brace for Diogo Jota saw the game finish 2-0 in the Reds' favour.  

The centre-back produced an uncharacteristically shaky performance and was replaced by Ibrahima Konate at half-time. 

With five substitutions available in the competition, a planned swap would come as no surprise. Though, neither would a swap based on Joel's performance. 

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The importance of the fixture inevitably raised questions.

Pepijn Lijnders confirmed Matip's availability in the pre-match press conference, implying no injury worries. 

Despite this, any instance involving the centre-back and an early departure spreads fear amongst Kopites. 

Transfermarkt report 15 injuries for the German over the past eight seasons, a record few can compete with. 

Klopp's silence on the matter in both his post-match interview and press conference is promising and suggests the change was tactical, rather than the result of an injury. Given a nervous first half performance, I would not be surprised 

The German coach acknowledged a strained rotation in his post-match press conference, implying that preventative factors may also be at play. 

An unusually poor performance from the centre-half is disappointing, though it will be a relief to the Reds who will no doubt be relying upon the defensive talisman for upcoming fixtures.

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