The latest Merseyside derby had Liverpool dropping points for a second successive Premier League game, a rarity in recent seasons and even more damaging a long-term injury to one of the backbone’s of the team, Virgil Van Dijk!
The Netherlands international centre-back was involved in a nasty collision with Everton and England number one goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, an event which surprisingly saw the latter go unpunished by the referee and avoided disciplinary action after a review by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
The fallout of that insane tackle now sees the rock-solid defender requiring knee surgery after suffering cruciate ligament damage and is projected to be out for at least six months, a major setback in Liverpool’s Premier League title-defence.
The present situation at the league champions has the déjà vu feel in comparison with what dethroned champions Manchester City experienced in their failed title-defence last season.
The Citizens failed to replace departed club legend Vincent Kompany in the heart of defence, a similar mistake the Reds made following the sale of Dejan Lovren to Russian team Zenit Saint-Petersburg this summer and even further more intriguing, Van Dijk has sustained a serious injury just like Aymeric Laporte last season, with Van Dijk projected to be out for even a much longer period.
So what are the immediate effects of Van Dijk’s injury-enforced absence which no doubt will affect Liverpool’s ambitions this season?
Since joining the Reds for a then world record £75m fee for a defender in January, 2018, Van Dijk remarkably has played every single minute of Liverpool’s league campaign.
Putting in proper context, since the second-half of 2017/18, the entire 2018/19 and 2019/20 and the opening four matches of this present season, Van Dijk has neither been benched nor substituted in any Premier League games Liverpool have played since his big-money signing.
In view of first-choice goalkeeper Alisson currently being ruled out with a shoulder injury and the transfer window not reopening until January, the present situation leaves Jurgen Klopp with one of the toughest situations he has to face in his time as the Reds’ manager, particularly considering Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are only made to look anywhere close to being top class defenders whenever they partner Van Dijk.
The coming days, weeks and months will prove rather tasking and a true test of character at Liverpool in their bid to successfully defend their Premier League title. However, the present situation when properly analysed looks very unfavourable for the Reds, but as they say on the red half of Merseyside, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
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