Liverpool’s 2-2 draw away at Everton could prove to be the most decisive game of the Reds’ season.
No, it’s not because Jurgen Klopp’s team surrendered two points at Goodison Park, but due to the fact that their leader Virgil van Dijk picked up a serious knee injury.
The Dutchman will require surgery and is likely to miss the majority of the 2020/21 campaign, an absence which will almost certainly blow the title race wide open.
There has already been much discussion as to whether Liverpool can retain their crown without arguably their most important player.
Reds legend Jamie Carragher is not feeling too optimistic about his former club’s chances, stating that history is against Klopp’s side when discussing Van Dijk’s injury on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.
“History says no,” Carragher admitted in the studio. “When I started watching football in the mid-80s, I went through teams, champions, who tried to retain the title the next season, we know it’s difficult.
“But in the 80s, huge figures like Van Dijk, not just any player, players you think you cannot be without.
“Everton in 1986 lost Neville Southall to a broken ankle, Liverpool won the double in 1986. One of Liverpool’s greatest teams was in 1988, Alan Hansen, the Van Dijk of that team, got injured in pre-season, didn’t play until the FA Cup semi-final in April, Arsenal won the league.
“I went back to Cantona, not an injury, missed half a season, Blackburn win the title. Roy Keane does his cruciate at Leeds, Arsenal win the title.
🗣 "Cantona missed half the season, Blackburn won the League. Roy Keane, Arsenal won the league. Last season Laporte, City lose the league. If van Dijk stays fit I think Liverpool win the league, this massively opens it up"@Carra23 examples of injuries affecting the title race pic.twitter.com/BjSBdeMB3t— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 19, 2020
“Even last season? Laporte missing for half the season, Man City were champions and lose the league.
“Who knows what would have happened. A lot of those players, I think if they stay fit, I think they win the league.
“I think if Van Dijk is fit for the whole season, Liverpool win the league, but it’s massively opened it up now.”
It’s hard not to agree with Carragher here. Van Dijk’s importance to this Liverpool side is unrivalled and the graphic from Sky Sports below illustrates that point perfectly.
You can always rely on Sky’s excellent Monday Night Football show to serve up the stats that matter…— Kevin Palmer (@RealKevinPalmer) October 19, 2020
Liverpool with and without Van Dijk. Huge difference on so many levels #LFC pic.twitter.com/wd2E9QwVeN