Hey Dave: Can Liverpool still be title contenders?

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Having injuries at this point in the season can prove to be detrimental in the long run, even for the bigger clubs. 

After securing the Premier League title last season, Liverpool’s campaign this season has been fairly successful, if you take out their 7-2 defeat against Aston Villa early in the season, that is. But as of late, their injury list started to get packed with key players. The first set of players were Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho from mid to late October. While Fabinho is expected to return in the coming weeks, van Dijk won’t return until April of next year. The next few players sent to the sideline were mainly from the Reds’ defense, including Trent Alexander-Arnold with a calf injury and Joe Gomez with a patella issue that could make him unavailable for the rest of the season. 

As if their defense issue couldn’t have gotten worse, Andrew Robertson and Jordan Henderson are the latest on the injury list. Robertson’s case is unknown while Henderson’s case is a hamstring injury announced after being pulled out at halftime in Liverpool’s game against Belgium. To me, their injury crisis is kind of worrisome, especially with a crucial game against Leicester approaching on Sunday. The only semi-promising players that could return are Thiago and Fabinho, but they’re midfielders. Maybe Jurgen Klöpp will play for Fabinho in the back, but besides that, Liverpool’s defense is heavily exposed. 

Some of the available defenders that will likely be called up are Joel Matip, which, I believe most Liverpool fans will agree, would have little to no effect on the defense’s strength unless he’s fully fit. Or, they’ll have to rely on some of their younger players like Rhys Williams, who has featured for the club in the Carabao Cup and the Champions League. Williams, despite being only 19, has had some promising performances, as he’s won half of his tackles and managed to get a pass accuracy of 86%.  

So, to answer the question of Liverpool still being the favorites to win the league this season, I have to say that at this rate, not really. Just look at some highlights from the past couple seasons to see how strong of a defense Liverpool had compared to their options now. All this change in Liverpool’s lineup would do is put a band-aid over a gunshot wound. I personally don’t think it will be enough to secure three points on Sunday, or even one point if they’re lucky enough to keep a leveled game. If they don’t perform well when the Premier League returns, it will only mean trouble for the Merseyside club and somewhat start the domino effect in their upcoming games after Leicester and shrink their chances of winning back-to-back titles. Oh, how the mighty have fallen … for now that is. 

If there’s one thing Klöpp has learned throughout this short amount of time, it’s that Liverpool need to get some players in the winter transfer window, otherwise they can toss out any chances of defending their Premier League title. One player the Reds should look at during the transfer window is Dayot Upamecano, assuming he’s able to perform after recovering from a torn muscle. So far, the RB Leipzig defender has had a pretty solid performance this season. In the Bundesliga and Champions League, he’s won all seven of his tackles, makes about 1.2 tackles per game and has a very high pass accuracy of 90%. 

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