All that I want this weekend is for Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez to be together again. I need it like I need a cocktail right now. Okay, I’m back with the cocktail. Liverpool’s dynamic defensive duo have had an incredibly promising start to the season. Along with Alisson, Van Dijk and Gomez have shored up Jürgen Klopp’s defense and then some.
But Van Dijk’s bruised rib has put some doubt on that defensive solidity. The Dutchman was replaced in the match against Southampton when the pain in his abdomen was so great that it effected his performance.
Van Dijk has not trained with the team since leaving the Anfield pitch last weekend. Klopp smoke somewhat optimistically about Virgil’s progress during his pre-Chelsea press conference on Friday but another day of training came and went without The Netherlands international.
The club have now departed for London, asleep in their bunks as you read this, or maybe up watching cartoons depending on your timezone. Van Dijk has traveled with the team and Klopp is giving the player every chance to play on Saturday.
“I will decide,” said Klopp. “If the player goes out and says ‘no chance’ then I cannot decide, but in all other situations I will decide.
“Virgil will try everything to be ready. I know how it sounds but as long as you are not seriously injured, like broken or ruptured or a proper strain, then the boys play constantly with pain.
“And if you have no pain before the game, then you will have it after the first challenge. That’s how football is.
“It is important how you can deal with the pain and how strong is the pain, but if he is able to deal with it then he can play.”
This is a big Premier League match. Two undefeated teams are going head to head. A win against Chelsea would leave Liverpool in first place and put them five points ahead of the Blues. Van Dijk wants to play in this game and Klopp wants to let him. And I’d like it to. If he can go 65 or 70 minutes there’s still a lot of time for great Virgil stuff. That could be the difference for the team. But what if he can only last the first half? Is it worth it?