Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah can't stop scoring, Alisson's return, and Thiago - Why Liverpool will still win the Premier League without Virgil van Dijk

talksport.com, 20 October 2020, 04:43
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah can
Liverpool face an uncertain season with top defender Virgil van Dijk now ruled out for the foreseeable future.

It's a huge blow to a side who were intent on retaining the Premier League crown they won in the summer.

Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are now the first-choice pairing at centre-back for Jurgen Klopp but the Reds boss must now be rueful he was unable to sign a defender to replace Dejan Lovren.

The Croatian left in the summer, along with Ki-Jana Hoever, and Van Dijk's anterior cruciate ligament now leaves them incredibly light at the back.

Sepp van den Berg and Nathaniel Phillips are options for Klopp as backups, along with Rhys Williams who started alongside Van Dijk in the Carabao Cup against Lincoln.

But despite this thin defence, Liverpool, realistically, should have no problems at all in retaining their trophy thanks to the quality still available to Klopp and talkSPORT can tell you why below.

*All stats correct on October 19, 2020

Alisson will return soon

Were you to team up Van Dijk's injury with a lengthy absence for the Brazilian shot-stopper then there might be a real issue.

Klopp, though, appears positive about his prognosis and there is a suggestion he could even be back to face West Ham on October 31.

Alisson may have only played in three Premier League matches this season but he's already been in fine form, outperforming his post-shot expected goals.

According to FBref, with data provided by StatsBomb, an average goalkeeper would have conceded 4.8 goals in the trio of games instead of the four he actually allowed into the back of his net.

It's the second best record in the top flight so far, behind Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez but more importantly, way better than his replacement Adrian.

The Spaniard has under performed by 1.9 goals, conceding almost a goal per game more than he should have.

Alisson's return will be crucial to the Reds coping without Van Dijk.

Liverpool's goalscoring

At the other end of the pitch, the Reds have got it covered.

Losing the domineering Dutchman is a huge blow but when you take a breather and consider the stunning strike force they have, Liverpool should be able out-score anyone.

It's a bit Fat Les, but 'we're gonna score one more than you' might have to be the mantra in this chaotic Premier League season.

Already, across five games, Klopp's side have racked up 13 goals - the joint-third most in the division, behind only Tottenham (15) and Everton (14).

When it comes to expected goals (xG) they have outperformed every team - even free-scoring Spurs - with stats suggesting they should have netted 12.9 times - so they're actually doing about right in front of goal. Perfect, no regression to fear.

Meanwhile, they might be conceding more xG (8.9) than they would want - it's the fifth worst in the division - but even so, they have the best xG difference of any side.

It could be a wild ride without Van Dijk but the Reds should still be able to defeat opponents thanks to the skills of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Mane is hovering around his xG, netting four times when stats suggest he would have got around 3.4 in his opening fixtures, Salah, on the other hand, is out performing his thanks to a couple of penalties.

Midfield magic

And to complement the goalscorers up top, the Liverpool playmakers are doing the business getting the ball into the right areas of the pitch.

Already this season, they have racked up almost 3000 more yards of progressive passing than any other team - the closest being Chelsea, Everton, and Tottenham, while they have also made 64 key passes, 11 more than nearest rivals Spurs.

It's promising, and it gets even better with Liverpool getting passes into the final third more than any other team - on 230 occasions, 33 more than Man City - while they have completed 71 into the penalty area, 20 more than anyone else.

If Klopp can keep his midfielders - and his full-backs - on this pace, not much can realistically stop the Reds' title charge.

Tenacity across the pitch

It's not just with the ball Liverpool are excelling already this season.

They have won the sixth most tackles, more than any 'Big Six' team, they have attempt more tackles than anyone in the final third, and the second most in the middle third.

Combine that with their elite pressing, 305 final third pressures - 97 more than second-place Spurs - and the fact they're the sixth best side when you combine the number of players tackled and interceptions, they should be able to halt opposition before they even get to their Van Dijk-less backline.

But there is one big problem…

Liverpool have been sensational, and one of the big reasons behind that has been the fact their standard never dropped.

However, errors which directly lead to shots are creeping into their game.

Last season they only made 10 in total, three years ago it was just nine, while in 2018/19 they did move up to 14.

In 2020/21, with just five games gone, though, they have already made five errors - the joint most along with Chelsea.

Tottenham, meanwhile, haven't made a single one yet, while Manchester United have only made one and Man City two.

You can listen to commentary of Liverpool v Sheffield United on Saturday, October 24 at 8pm - live on talkSPORT

Liverpool face an uncertain season with top defender Virgil van Dijk now ruled out for the foreseeable future.

Top News
today at 13:27 sportsmole.co.uk
How Chelsea could line up against Tottenham Hotspur High-flying Chelsea welcome league leaders Tottenham Hotspur and former manager Jose Mourinho back to Stamford Bridge for a mouth-watering London derby on Sunday.
today at 13:24 sportsmole.co.uk
Everton Everton are reportedly considering a January move for Lazio attacker Luis Alberto. The 28-year-old only recently signed a new contract with his Italian club and has been a key player for Simone Inzaghi 's side this term, already making seven appearances in all competitions.
today at 13:23 sportsmole.co.uk
Victory over PSG cements AS Monaco At the close of last season, legendary football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) narrowly lost (1-0) its first-ever Champions League Final, as the star power of Neymar and Mbappé was not enough to overcome powerhouse squad Bayern Munich.
today at 13:07 sportsmole.co.uk
FPL tips: Bruno Fernandes as Mohamed Salah replacement? News of Mohamed Salah 's positive coronavirus test last week sent shockwaves through the FPL community. Liverpool's most reliable asset had almost 3.
today at 13:06 talksport.com
Alex Iwobi compares Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti with legendary Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger ahead of Leeds clash Alex Iwobi claimed that playing under Carlo Ancelotti is almost exactly like playing under Arsene Wenger.
today at 13:05 sportsmole.co.uk
Carlo Ancelotti pays tribute to "idol" Diego Maradona Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti paid tribute to Napoli's idol and his good friend after Diego Maradona was buried in a private ceremony in Argentina.
today at 13:04 talksport.com
Follow all the latest news, gossip and expert opinion with a big weekend of sport in store.
today at 13:04 talksport.com
Pascal Gross EXCLUSIVE: Brighton midfielder on Liverpool Brighton midfielder Pascal Gross believes facing Liverpool will not be any easier than usual despite a number of their star players being out injured.
today at 13:03 sportsmole.co.uk
Mikel Arteta out to make the Emirates a "fortress" as fans return Mikel Arteta is aiming to turn the Emirates Stadium into a 'fortress' as Arsenal plan to welcome fans back for the first time in nine months.
today at 12:38 sportsmole.co.uk
Preview: Feyenoord vs. FC Utrecht - prediction, team news, lineups Third-placed Feyenoord host mid-table FC Utrecht on Sunday in the hopes of maintaining their title credentials.
today at 12:34 sportsmole.co.uk
Preview: Saint-Etienne vs. Lille - prediction, team news, lineups Saint-Etienne will be desperate to end their torrid losing run when they play host to Ligue 1 high-flyers Lille at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Sunday evening.
today at 12:30 talksport.com
Brighton v Liverpool LIVE commentary and team news: Reds look to go top of the Premier League table Premier League champions Liverpool make the trip to Brighton this weekend looking to climb back to the top of the table.
today at 12:30 talksport.com
Everton v Leeds United LIVE commentary and team news: talkSPORT coverage of exciting Premier League clash Everton and Leeds face off in an exciting-looking Premier League clash this weekend.
today at 12:16 sportsmole.co.uk
Pep Guardiola admits Sergio Aguero is struggling with Diego Maradona death Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola admits striker Sergio Aguero has found the last few days difficult following the death of Diego Maradona.
today at 12:13 talksport.com
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer urged to give Donny van de Beek more game time as Juventus linked with playmaker Juventus are reportedly considering a summer move for Manchester United playmaker Donny van de Beek - despite the Dutchman arriving just two months ago.
today at 12:11 talksport.com
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says complaining about fixture schedule is a Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes complaining about the tough fixture schedule over the festive period is a 'waste of time'.
today at 12:08 talksport.com
Tottenham announce ticket plans for Arsenal clash with 2,000 fans returning for Tottenham have announced their plans to let 2,000 fans in for the north London derby against Arsenal in the Premier League next Sunday.
today at 12:05 talksport.com
Breakdown of Liverpool They say never back the early kick-off but the stats suggest Liverpool's clash at Brighton on Saturday will only go one way.
today at 11:48 sportsmole.co.uk
Neil Lennon insists he has "full support" of Celtic chiefs Under pressure Celtic boss Neil Lennon revealed he has the "full support" of chief executive Peter Lawwell and major shareholder Dermot Desmond.
today at 11:46 sportsmole.co.uk
Team News: Carlo Ancelotti facing selection dilemma following Lucas Digne injury Everton left-back Lucas Digne is facing up to three months out with an ankle injury to give manager Carlo Ancelotti a decision to make ahead of the visit of Leeds.
today at 11:07 marca.com
Borussia Dortmund believe Haaland will stay E rling Haaland is attracting interest from the biggest clubs in the world after having scored 17 goals in 13 games so far this season, yet Borussia Dortmund director Michael Zorc expects the Norwegian striker to stay at the club.
today at 10:55 marca.com
The conversation between Gascoigne and Maradona: I T housands of stories about Diego Maradona have been shared in the last couple of days following the Argentine's death, and the latest has come from Paul Gascoigne.
today at 10:47 sportsmole.co.uk
Carlo Ancelotti: Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti is confident his squad can cope with the loss of left-back Lucas Digne for up to three months.
today at 10:28 sportsmole.co.uk
Frank Lampard has "no problem" with Jose Mourinho Frank Lampard has pledged not to take offence at any managerial run-ins with Jose Mourinho. Chelsea manager Lampard will go up against his former Blues boss and current Tottenham head coach Mourinho in Sunday's Premier League London derby at Stamford Bridge.
today at 10:25 sportsmole.co.uk
Former Wolverhampton Wanderers captain Mike Bailey diagnosed with dementia Former Wolves captain Mike Bailey has been diagnosed with dementia. The 78-year-old's family have made his diagnosis public to help highlight the current issues surrounding the disease within football and help support investigations.
today at 10:20 sportsmole.co.uk
Team News: Leicester trio set for recalls to starting lineup for Fulham clash Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans are expected to return to the Leicester starting line-up against Fulham.
today at 10:18 sportsmole.co.uk
Team News: Christian Pulisic in line for possible Chelsea return against Tottenham Christian Pulisic could return for Chelsea in Sunday's Premier League clash with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge having beaten his latest hamstring issue.
today at 10:17 sportsmole.co.uk
Preview: Gil Vicente vs. Rio Ave - prediction, team news, lineups Rio Ave have the European spots in their sights as they prepare for Sunday's Primeira Liga clash with out-of-form Gil Vicente at Estadio Cidade de Barcelos.
today at 10:14 talksport.com
Manchester United could be forced to paying a ransom after their internal IT system suffered a cyber attack, talkSPORT has been told.
today at 09:57 sportsmole.co.uk
Leeds United Leeds United are reportedly exploring the possibility of signing Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig on loan during the January transfer window.

Top Matches

VFL Wolfsburg
-
Werder Bremen
1.94 | 3.70 | 4.20
Today at 14:30
Brighton
-
Liverpool
5.59 | 4.26 | 1.63
Tomorrow at 07:30
Sassuolo
-
Inter
4.59 | 4.26 | 1.74
Tomorrow at 09:00
Borussia Dortmund
-
FC Koln
1.25 | 6.38 | 12.33
Tomorrow at 09:30
Union Berlin
-
Eintracht Frankfurt
2.54 | 3.57 | 2.87
Tomorrow at 09:30
VFB Stuttgart
-
Bayern Munich
8.90 | 6.32 | 1.31
Tomorrow at 09:30
Manchester City
-
Burnley
1.17 | 8.50 | 15.30
Tomorrow at 10:00
Dynamo Kyiv
-
Vorskla Poltava
Tomorrow at 10:00
Valencia
-
Atletico Madrid
4.99 | 4.01 | 1.74
Tomorrow at 10:15
Marseille
-
Nantes
2.27 | 3.29 | 3.57
Tomorrow at 11:00
Akhmat Grozny
-
Lokomotiv Moscow
2.35 | 3.19 | 3.34
Tomorrow at 11:00
Benevento
-
Juventus
7.90 | 5.05 | 1.42
Tomorrow at 12:00
Everton
-
Leeds
2.04 | 3.81 | 3.70
Tomorrow at 12:30
Huesca
-
Sevilla
4.34 | 3.39 | 2.00
Tomorrow at 12:30
Dnipro-1
-
Shakhtar Donetsk
8.78 | 5.37 | 1.32
Tomorrow at 12:30
Emmen
-
Ajax
12.91 | 7.26 | 1.21
Tomorrow at 12:45
Santa Clara
-
FC Porto
7.18 | 4.09 | 1.54
Tomorrow at 13:00
Paris Saint Germain
-
Bordeaux
1.20 | 7.62 | 14.06
Tomorrow at 15:00
Real Madrid
-
Alaves
1.35 | 5.51 | 9.39
Tomorrow at 15:00
Lazio
-
Udinese
1.74 | 4.01 | 4.92
Sun 29 Nov, 06:30
Lyon
-
Reims
1.40 | 5.25 | 8.27
Sun 29 Nov, 07:00
Barcelona
-
Osasuna
1.26 | 6.54 | 11.19
Sun 29 Nov, 08:00
Feyenoord
-
Utrecht
1.73 | 4.24 | 4.57
Sun 29 Nov, 08:30
Rubin
-
CSKA Moscow
3.42 | 3.65 | 2.11
Sun 29 Nov, 08:30
Southampton
-
Manchester UTD
3.89 | 3.64 | 2.02
Sun 29 Nov, 09:00
Lorient
-
Montpellier
3.25 | 3.52 | 2.31
Sun 29 Nov, 09:00
Monaco
-
Nimes
1.34 | 5.43 | 8.18
Sun 29 Nov, 09:00
AC Milan
-
Fiorentina
1.74 | 3.99 | 5.03
Sun 29 Nov, 09:00
Celtic
-
Ross County
1.13 | 8.90 | 20.44
Sun 29 Nov, 09:00
Bayer Leverkusen
-
Hertha Berlin
1.77 | 4.01 | 4.73
Sun 29 Nov, 09:30