Liverpool has been tipped to do big things this season as Jurgen Klopp aims to win his first silverware with the Merseysiders in his third season in charge. The German manager has seen his side make consistent progress as they have vastly improved from when he took over. And after reaching the Champions League final last term both players and manager are gearing up for more.
A good start to the season especially in the Premier League has only increased expectations for the Anfield faithful.
Klopp has made a significant improvement to the squad for this campaign by making some quality signings. But he is also hugely dependent on his old guard. The likes of James Milner, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah still remain the core of the team. So any injury concern for any of them is bad news.
Although like Manchester City, The Reds are still unbeaten in the league this season, Pep Guardiola’s side is less affected by injuries than Liverpool. For example, Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City’s best player by far last season has been injured since the beginning of the campaign. But that has not prevented the Sky Blues from topping the table. Recently, players like Ilkay Gundogan, Benjamin Mendy and Fabian Delph have also spent time on the sidelines. But that has not impeded the team’s performance on the pitch.
Several Liverpool players returned from the international break with injury concerns. Midfielder Naby Keita picked up a hamstring injury while playing in an African Nations Cup qualifier for Guinea.
Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman revealed after the game against Germany that defender Virgil van Dijk has been playing with two broken ribs. This forced him to make an early return to Anfield.
Mohamed Salah seemed to have received a knock when he walked off the pitch while playing for Egypt. Same for Sadio Mané who filed out for Senegal. These are all key players for the German tactician. For some of them, the injuries may not be serious but it can be difficult to put forth top-notch performances when they are not 100 percent fit.
The Reds have already been given a scare in the Champions League with a loss away at Napoli. In a group that includes Paris Saint-Germain, even a win over two legs against Red Star Belgrade may not be enough. Qualification from the group may require taking points off the Italian side or in the return leg in France. That’s the more reason the club needs its players to stay injury-free.
In the Premier League, Man City have an advantage in squad depth over the Reds. Chelsea is also doing well and has no injury worries. A resurgence is going on at Arsenal under Unai Emery. The Gunners have won six straight games after losing their first two of the campaign to City and Chelsea. Having climbed into fourth place on the table, they are ready to take advantage of any slip-ups.
Whether Liverpool goes on to falter in the weeks to come as a result of injury to key players remains to be seen. But the likelihood of that happening for the Merseysiders is high, at least compared to rivals Man City in the title race.