Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk’s continued presence at the back is essential to the team’s title chances, according to Chris Sutton.
The Reds are top of the Premier League after 25 matches, three points ahead of defending champions Manchester City with 13 matches of the 2018-19 campaign remaining.
However, two successive draws saw Liverpool squander the chance to open up a seven-point lead, with some experts now suggesting that City have regained the initiative in the race for the title.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have not been at their free-flowing best going forward recently but at the back they remain a solid unit and Sutton – who played in the Premier League for Blackburn Rovers and Chelsea – believes that Van Dijk is the most important player in the team.
Sutton thinks that an injury to Liverpool’s key superstar would ‘kill off’ their title bid, with Klopp lacking the same squad depth at Anfield that Pep Guardiola enjoys at City.
“An injury to Van Dijk now would kill off Liverpool’s title bid,” the pundit began – as per the Daily Mail.
“City are not as reliant on any individual – they have at least two quality players in every outfield position – but Fernandinho is a huge loss when he does not play.”
Klopp’s side are back in Premier League action this Saturday as they host Bournemouth, by which time they could already be behind City in the league table.
Guardiola’s champions are set to face Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday night and a win will see them return to the summit on goal difference before they switch their focus to the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday.
Liverpool are still in a great position to win their first league title in 29 years, but Sutton is correct in his assessment that Van Dijk is absolutely vital to their hopes.
The Dutchman is the best centre-back in the league and his impact at Anfield since joining from Southampton in January 2018 has been nothing short of immense.
If he can stay fit the Reds will be there right until the very end, but if not, a lack of back up options may be what ends up costing them the piece of silverware they crave the most come May.