Liverpool are not having the most enjoyable of seasons and some news after the recent defeat against Brentford lowered the mood even further.
At half time in London, Jurgen Klopp was forced to take Virgil van Dijk off and replace him with Joel Matip. The Dutchman had actually been playing very badly and some wondered if it was tactical, but it later became clear he suffered a hamstring injury that could now keep him out of the team for six-eight weeks.
This leaves Liverpool with four senior centre-backs available meaning the situation is not totally desperate, but Van Dijk is by far the best defender in the squad. This is not the first time Liverpool have had to endure a spell with Van Dijk, though.
Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018 and he immediately established himself as one of, if not the best, central defenders in the world. In October 2020, though, he was the victim of a heavy challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
That led to a cruciate ligament rupture which kept him out for 254 days. Here is how Liverpool fared in between Van Dijk’s arrival and his 2020 injury.
In the games they played without Van Dijk, it was a very different story. It is worth remembering that Van Dijk became one of many defenders to get injured at Liverpool, so form was even more adversely affected.
Van Dijk was back to fitness for the start of the 2021/22 season and it was a much better campaign for Liverpool. They didn’t manage to win the title, but they only lost two games in the whole Premier League season.
Liverpool with Virgil van Dijk in 2021/22
Liverpool without Virgil van Dijk in 2021/22
In this most recent campaign, Liverpool have not looked anywhere near as good as they did last season. Van Dijk has not been at his best, along with lots of other players in the squad. Klopp’s side sit in sixth place and are seven points away from Manchester United in fourth.
Liverpool with Virgil van Dijk in 2022/23
Liverpool without Virgil van Dijk in 2022/23
After an FA Cup tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Liverpool have more tough games coming up. They will be away to a confident Brighton side and then host Chelsea at Anfield. February contains the derby against Everton, a trip to Newcastle and the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie against Real Madrid.
Klopp didn’t seem too worried when Van Dijk first went off against Brentford, saying: “Virgil felt a little bit his muscle, but he said he’s fine and he’s a very good judge of these things.
“I didn’t want to take any risk. The physios looked quite happy when I said I didn’t want to take a risk. It’s not an injury, he just felt the intensity.”
Tests have shown it to be a much more serious injury and it could seriously hinder the rest of Liverpool’s season.