For anyone of a superstitious disposition, Liverpool’s decision to head into a 2020-21 season with three senior centre halves was always bound to end badly, and today’s news that Joe Gomez has picked up a potentially serious knee injury will feel like confirmation of that.
Gomez suffered the injury in training with England, who are preparing for a friendly against Ireland and then two largely meaningless for them Nations League games. While details are yet to be released, early reports call it “serious,” which needless to say isn’t a good sign.
The reality, though, is that this is less bad luck or fate or the injury gods punishing Liverpool for not replacing the departed Dejan Lovren and more the expected reality—the reality of a compressed, punishing schedule following no offseason and of injury-prone players.
Virgil van Dijk’s season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear may have been unexpected in as much as the Dutch colossus has a stellar injury record, but for Gomez and fellow injury-prone centre half Joël Matip, missing long stretches of action is to be expected.
Gomez has missed 45 games over the past three years through injury while Matip has missed 50, seasons when neither was counted on to start every game. The expectation at this point had to be that at best each would be available for about two-thirds of the season.
If Van Dijk hadn’t been injured, the math might have made sense. Now, barring a January signing, Liverpool fans and manager Jürgen Klopp should be prepared for one of the club’s two remaining centre halves often being missing—and at times both will be.