Jürgen Klopp’s plans to mount another title tilt have got off to a mixed start.
His Liverpool side have gone into this weekend third in the Premier League, level on points with Tottenham and just one point behind league leaders Leicester City who visit Anfield on Sunday night.
Tricky fixtures against top-six rivals Chelsea (away), Arsenal (home) and Manchester City (away) – with eight points from them – are already under their belt just eight games in. Now, Liverpool will be eyeing up their next three league ties against Leicester, Brighton and Wolves as a chance to reach the top-spot once again.
It took seven months for Liverpool to taste defeat last campaign, eventually succumbing to Watford in February.
This season it’s took just four games, Aston Villa causing quite the upset and putting seven past Klopp’s side in a 7-2 thumping at Villa Park.
However, the German boss’s real cause for concern is the reigning champion’s mounting injury crisis.
Virgil van Dijk
Worryingly, the majority of Liverpool’s injury woes come in their defensive third.
They are without the sturdy foundation of Virgil van Dijk, with the Dutch central defender set to face the longest spell on the side-lines out of all of Liverpool’s crocked stars.
Van Dijk was on the wrong end of a hideous Jordan Pickford tackle in last month’s Merseyside Derby and as a result, sustained serious knee ligament damage. He is unlikely to feature again this season, despite returning to low-impact training.
Usual centre-back partner Joe Gomez also faces a lengthy spell out of action as he begins his recovery from a severe knee injury picked up in England training.
As a result, Liverpool will get a subsidy from FIFA, as the Club Protection Programme means teams who lose players to injuries sustained during international matches/training are compensated for the duration of their absence.
Gomez, like van Dijk, has undergone surgery, and while Liverpool have placed no timeframe on the defender’s potential return, there is still hope he will feature again this season.
Speaking on Friday, Klopp said: “Tough one but the surgery was a success. He is now recovering and then starting rehab.”
Last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year, Trent Alexander Arnold will also miss Sunday night’s clash at home to Leicester.
The right-back is currently nursing a hamstring injury that caused him to limp off in the recent 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
The injury saw him ruled out of the recent international action, and the 22-year-old is likely to miss all of Liverpool’s November fixtures.
Finally, some good news for the Anfield faithful – the other half of the Reds’ dynamic full-back duo, Andy Robertson should be fit to face the Foxes on Sunday.
After starring in Scotland’s historic penalty shootout win over Serbia, which saw them qualify for their first major tournament since 1998, there were some murmurs the Scot could be the latest to occupy the overflowing Liverpool treatment room.
Robertson sat out Scotland’s 1-0 defeat against Israel on Saturday because of a tight hamstring, however, his omission was little more than a precaution and he is anticipated to feature in some capacity on Sunday.
Liverpool’s star-man and the Premier League’s joint-leading marksman will be out of Sunday’s clash following his positive Covid-19 diagnosis.
The Egyptian received the news while back in his home country for both his brother’s wedding and international duties. Despite flying back to the UK on Friday, he will not appear in a Liverpool shirt until he’s returned a negative test.
Salah is not the only member of the Egyptian national side to be ruled out of this weekend’s fixtures with coronavirus. Arsenal midfielder Mohammed El-Neny will miss the Gunners clash with Leeds after also contracting the virus.
Yet another Merseyside casualty from the recent batch of international fixtures, Henderson was replaced by Harry Winks at half-time during England’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Belgium.
It is not yet clear what the injury actually is, with Southgate claiming he came off as a precaution after complaining of a “bit of tightness”.
The Liverpool captain played no part in England’s final game against Iceland on Wednesday, having already returned to Liverpool, and will miss Sunday’s clash with Leicester.
Liverpool have been without the Brazilian since he suffered a hamstring problem while deputising for the injured Virgil van Dijk at the back against FC Midtjylland in October.
Fortunately, the injury was not as severe as first feared, and things are looking up for the former Real Madrid midfielder.
In Friday’s press conference, boss Klopp did not ruled out a potential return for the 27-year-old this weekend., saying he is “in a good way”.
Billed as one of the signings of the summer, Thiago’s life at Anfield so far has been riddled with interruptions.
After testing positive and recovering from Covid-19, Thiago was on the receiving end of a nasty challenge from Everton forward Richarlison during the Merseyside derby, which has seen the ex-Barca and Bayern midfielder out of action since October.
However, while he hasn’t gained any competitive minutes since the injury, he has been spotted back in training and, like Fabinho, is “in a good way” and could be considered on Sunday.
Liverpool’s forgotten man?
The 27-year-old’s Anfield career has been spoiled by injury problems since he arrived in the summer of 2017, and this year has proved no different.
The Ox has yet to feature in any of the Reds’ 14 games so far this term after being injured during a pre-season trip to Austria.
Klopp said earlier this month that he was “doing well” but his recovering “takes time”, but on Friday said he – like Fabinho and Thiago – was “in a good way”, not ruling out a return to action soon.