For a brief interlude, Virgil van Dijk was Liverpool’s only fit central defender. A few of the fitness emergencies around the Reds’ back line have been eased somewhat, with Joël Matip available once again (and putting in a solid performance against Crystal Palace), Joe Gomez hopefully not far off, and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury not looking as dire as it was previously.
Because you can never have nice things, it looks like the new area of concern for the moment will be Liverpool’s midfield. Gini Wijnaldum was left out of the lineup today thanks to a lingering knee issue, and new fan favorite Fabinho had to be replaced by Adam Lallana during the contest with Palace. Add to that the fact that utility man James Milner is going to be on the sidelines for a bit thanks to his sending off for a second bookable offence.
Fabinho’s absence for any significant length of time will be particularly unfortunate since the former AS Monaco man had seemed to have settled into his role, and was growing in confidence and stature as a vital element of Liverpool’s midfield. The nature of his injury remains somewhat unclear, with some observers mentioning a hamstring complaint, though Fabinho did leave the field under his own power and stayed on the bench briefly rather than disappearing down the tunnel.
Good thing then, that thanks to their elimination from domestic cups, Liverpool have an eleven-day interval before they next take on Leicester City. Manager Klopp had the following to say about the situation:
“If I would imagine Millie out and Fabinho for sure a doubt it would’ve been a massive challenge if we would play on Wednesday or Saturday again. I have no idea how that would’ve worked - we couldn’t do that, honestly. It will be now two days of recovery for the boys with the most minutes and the others train of course, and then we start the preparation for the Leicester game, which is another tough task. That’s why we are here but it will not be a real break, we have to use it for training.”
Klopp’s words will not provide tremendous relief, though there is still some cause for optimism given that Alexander-Arnold might not be out for the four-week period that was initially discussed. If available, that would at least offer a resolution to the right-back question,.
“I don’t know,” said Klopp when asked about Alexander-Arnold’s return. “We have to look day to day, that’s what everybody tells me. Leicester? I don’t know. Trent is a very quick healer so that gives us a little hope. That’s it. We have to see.”