The Reds’ title defence has been derailed in recent weeks as injuries have taken their toll
Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp has claimed that his side would be closer to runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City if 2020-21 had been a “normal season”.
Several key Liverpool players have been injured for significant stretches, particularly in defence where Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all likely to miss the rest of the season.
Klopp’s side won their first Premier League title last season but currently find themselves in sixth place, 16 points back of Pep Guardiola’s side.
What Klopp said
“It was never the case where we thought how can we overtake City. Or how can we become the finest team in English football again, whatever that means,” Klopp said.
“We just wanted to be the best version of ourselves. We have that chance again. If that is good enough, it is good enough. If another team is better, that’s how sport works.
“We cannot do more than be the best version of ourselves and that is what we will try again as a team.
“For that we need a little bit more luck, of course. Some slightly more luck with injuries and we can get closer to that.
“We all agree, and I’m sure Pep would say that, in a normal season for both teams we would not be 16 points away.
“But we are. That’s how it is. We accept it. This season it is not our concern how close we get to City. It is how far we can go up the table. That is enough work to do.”
Who has been injured for Liverpool?
Some of Liverpool’s most important players have missed significant time this season. Most damaging to the Reds’ cause have been the injuries to Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip – the team’s top three centre-backs.
In addition, Diogo Jota, Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Alisson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have all missed time at various points.
Fabinho and Henderson have been forced into makeshift centre-back roles to cover for the spate of injuries, leaving the Reds weaker in midfield as a result.
Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies were brought in during the January transfer window to help cover Liverpool’s absences in defence.
What’s next for Liverpool?
Liverpool face Everton in the Merseyside derby on Saturday, before further league matches against Sheffield United, Chelsea and Fulham.
Klopp’s side then face RB Leipzig in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, having won the first leg 2-0 this week.