December 7, 2021

‘Liverpool have more leaders with Van Dijk out’ – Carragher salutes collective spirit in injury crisis

Spread the love

The Reds have seen a number of players ruled out of their plans, but a club legend has seen “three or four” stepping up to counter those absences

Liverpool have “more leadership” in the ranks now that Virgil van Dijk is stuck on the sidelines, says Jamie Carragher, with “three or four” players stepping up to counter the absence of injured stars.

The Reds have seen their squad ravaged by fitness problems over recent weeks and Jurgen Klopp has found himself down to the bare bones in defence, with Van Dijk being joined in the treatment room by Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Things have not been much better further up the field, with Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara recovering from knocks while Mohamed Salah tested positive for Covid-19.

Liverpool have found a way of navigating a path through those setbacks, with more records being broken by a fiercely ambitious outfit.

Carragher believes collective spirit is carrying Klopp’s men through at present, with experienced performers aware that they need to offer even more when talismanic figures are ruled out.

The Reds legend told Sky Sports: “When you have that huge figure you look to in a certain position, and he’s out, it’s up to others to step in.

“Sometimes it is not just one player, it can be three or four at one time. What we are seeing now is that there is maybe a lot more leadership from other people.”

Liverpool are also considered to have tweaked their tactical approach slightly, with Klopp working on the plugging of defensive leaks.

A high-line system was criticised by some early in the 2020-21 campaign, as the defending Premier League champions struggled for clean sheets, but the Reds have been breached just five times across all competitions since suffering a humbling 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa in early October.

“When we talk about Van Dijk, let’s not forget he’s been part of a back four for the last couple of years that have had the best defensive record in the league, and I’m sure that would’ve been the case this season with him,” Carragher added.

“But there was no doubt Liverpool had huge problems at the start of the season. They conceded three at home against Leeds and then there was obviously the game against Aston Villa.

“We have spoken a lot about Liverpool’s line and it’s difficult at times to criticise a team that have a great defensive record and have been so successful.

“There were times when I’d look at the line and think ‘run back’. Certainly, in the Aston Villa game, where obviously Liverpool got it massively wrong.

“At times it was not so much about how high the line was, it was just the fact that I always felt that Liverpool’s defenders needed to be in a position to actually run back. ‘Just run back and match the run. We’re in a decent line, okay they have beat the press and have time on the ball, let’s just give ourselves two or three yards’. That’s all it was.”

Liverpool secured a shutout in their most recent outing, as Leicester were downed 3-0 at Anfield, and will be looking for more this week when they face Atalanta and Brighton in continental and domestic competition.