Adam Lallana has had a great start to the season for both Liverpool and England.
He has become one of the first names on Jurgen Klopp's teamsheet and has formed a frightening bond with attacking trio Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and summer signing Sadio Mane.
The former Southampton captain has scored three goals and assisted five for the Reds in the Premier League this season, as well as scoring three goals in his last three games for his country.
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But during the Three Lions' 2-2 friendly draw with Spain, Lallana picked up a groin injury and was forced off midway through the first half.
It meant he was absent for Liverpool's goalless draw at the Saints last weekend and will also miss the next two games versus Sunderland and Leeds in the EFL Cup.
He was also missing when his side drew 0-0 at home to Manchester United, in only the two games Klopp's men have failed to win in the last 11.
As well as the games at club level, he was also out of England's 0-0 draw against Slovenia and their abysmal 2-0 win against European minnows, Malta.
So is the 28-year-old's absence and lack of goals just a coincidence, or is he genuinely the cog that keeps the goalscoring machine ticking?
Klopp is adamant that the Reds' rare lack of goals is not down to his playmaker being out injured, but the stats suggest Liverpool miss a vital player when he is not on the field.
The Merseysiders have scored 17 home league goals in just five games and would be expecting to considerably add to that when they take on a resurgent Sunderland side at Anfield today.
“Adam Lallana, as everybody knows well, is an important player but it is not about just him. The games against Man United and Southampton were completely different. You cannot compare. That is no reason for us. We don’t know if we can bring the same formation. We have got a few guys who are struggling a little bit this week and we will have to make a few late decisions," Klopp said, per The Guardian.
Despite the lack of goals when Lallana plays, they have been much more solid defensively than in previous seasons.
The signing of Joel Matip on a free transfer has bolstered them massively, while the resurgence in form of Dejan Lovren has been a godsend for the Anfield faithful.
Loris Karius has also taken the number one spot from Simon Mignolet, and they've conceded the second fewest goals at home in the league - behind leaders Chelsea - something that would have been unheard of in the last few years.
This year could genuinely be Liverpool's best chance of winning the title, since going so close under Brendan Rodgers in the 2013/14 season.
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