Here’s a look at Liverpool’s record without Virgil van Dijk since his arrival in 2018. The Reds could be without the Dutchman for some time after an injury.
Liverpool announced on Sunday that Virgil van Dijk will have to undergo surgery on a knee injury. A horrific tackle from Jordan Pickford forced the Dutchman off against Everton and it appears to have done serious damage.
There’s ‘no specific timescale’ for Van Dijk’s return but the fact it’s a knee ligament injury suggests he’ll be gone for some time. So here’s a look at Liverpool’s record without Van Dijk since his arrival in 2018.
Van Dijk has only missed three Premier League games since he joined Liverpool for £75m. All three came in his first month at the club.
First, he missed a game away at Burnley that Liverpool won 2-1. A 4-3 win over Manchester City at Anfield followed that – again, without Van Dijk.
Two weeks later, Van Dijk sat on the bench as Liverpool comfortably beat Huddersfield Town 3-0. He’s played every single Premier League game since. In fact, he hadn’t missed a minute until going off on Saturday.
The Champions League is slightly different, though, as Van Dijk has missed games. The first came at home against FC Porto in March 2018. Liverpool had won the first leg 5-0 and comfortably saw out a 0-0 draw without Van Dijk in the second.
Van Dijk next missed a game in February 2019 and it’s the most important result of the lot here. He was suspended as Liverpool hosted Bayern Munich in a first-knockout round first-leg. The Reds performed above expectations, though, and kept the Bavarians to a 0-0 draw.
And that, quite incredibly, is the last time Liverpool played a major game without Van Dijk.
What do we learn?
Honestly, we don’t learn too much. It’s clear that Liverpool can defend without him – they kept a 0-0 against Bayern, for one – but consistently over several games? We don’t have that data.
The Bayern result is certainly encouraging, especially against such a good team. It’s just not enough to go on, though, and we can’t say how Liverpool will cope one way or the other.
This will be a learning experience for everyone, then, and certain players will have to step up. We’ve discussed three of them here, who Liverpool must rely on going forward.
But things won’t be the same and the Reds will undeniably be worse without Van Dijk. Hopefully, when we revisit their record upon his return, we’ve learned that he isn’t the be-all-end-all of Liverpool’s defence, though.