Liverpool’s Injury Crisis
Virgil Van Dijk. Diogo Jota. Thiago. Joe Gomez. Joel Matip. Naby Keita. Liverpool’s injury list seems never-ending. Ever since their star defender Van Dijk suffered an alarming ligament tear in October, the club has been hit with an injury crisis that has derailed their entire season and all but extinguished their hopes for a record-equalling 20th English league title.
In the 2019-20 Premier League season, Liverpool showcased their indomitability over every other team in the league by embarking upon an undefeated run that rivaled the Invincibles’ (Arsenal) 2003-04 season. As the coronavirus lockdown forced games to be postponed indefinitely in late March of 2020, Liverpool fans despaired at the possibility that the season would be annulled and their first all-but-certain win in the English Premier League would be taken away from them. Nonetheless, football returned to England in mid-June, and in just over 2 weeks, Liverpool were champions of England. Thus, hopes were high at the start of the 20/21 season, and Liverpool looked set to retain their title with several emphatic performances. However, on October 4th, disaster struck. A 7-2 thrashing against Aston Villa left Liverpool fans and players despondent. Perhaps this result was a foreboding omen of the horrors that the 20/21 season would present to Liverpool. In the very next game, a draw against Everton, Pickford’s challenge ruptured Van Dijk’s ACL, forcing the latter player to sit out for the rest of the season. Things only got worse after the key defender's injury. Over the next two months, Liverpool retained their top position; however, they faced several more injuries. Joe Gomez, the other center-back, was injured during international training. Diego Jota, Liverpool’s expensive summer signing who fans instantly loved for his energy and goals, faced a knee injury. Captain Jordan Henderson and Vice-Captain James Milner also picked up minor injuries. Nonetheless, with Liverpool still on top of the league, it seemed that there was still plenty of reason to believe that they would win the league. This sentiment changed drastically with the dawn of 2021.
Liverpool’s fabled unbeaten streak of 68 games at Anfield (their home stadium) was broken against relegation-threatened team, Burnley, in a 1-0 loss that saw fans lose hope of a successful title defense. Their woes continued, as their previously ruthless front 3, Firmino, Mane, and Salah began to lose their predatory instinct for goals.
Although calls for Klopp to resign haven’t begun yet, it is clear that if he doesn’t turn the team’s fortunes around after the recent string of humiliating defeats, he will have to make major changes to his approach over the summer.