Liverpool will have to make a decision on when to rest Virgil van Dijk this month. With the way they’re playing, it could be one of the biggest decisions Jurgen Klopp makes this season.
Van Dijk never rests, really. He played all 38 Premier League games last season and is following suit this year, too, playing all 15 so far.
And it’s no secret why Klopp plays him every week. In short, he’s the most important player on the pitch in every game he plays.
Not that we need to extol the virtues of Van Dijk to anyone – he was the runner-up for the Ballon d’Or for a reason.
There’s a big difference between last season and this season, though. Liverpool are competing on more fronts in this campaign, most notably with the Club World Cup this month.
They face a potential 10 more games over the next month before they next have a week-long break. They haven’t had a week off since before Crystal Palace on November 23rd, meaning it’s a remarkable stretch of 14 games without proper rest.
The whole squad is needed for that, then, and everyone needs a rest somewhere. Even Van Dijk and it will surely come at some point this month.
Klopp needs to figure out when’s best, though. Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez will surely fill in if and when Van Dijk does miss a game – but which one? Which is the best game to try an untested partnership?
Most would argue the Watford meeting on December 14th would be the most comfortable. The Hornets are playing pretty terribly – Liverpool could surely get away with resting Van Dijk.
There’s an argument for not playing him in either of the games on the 17th/18th. That could be a midweek break for him but the squad will be stretched so thin as it is. Keeping players out entirely might be tough.
It’s not an easy one for Klopp but he’s got to be careful not to push Van Dijk so far. Pick the wrong game and Liverpool could easily slip up,