Liverpool injuries: Stats dispel myth of unprecedented crisis

Virgil van Dijk, Jurgen Klopp

There is a common perception that Liverpool's season has been defined by injury problems, and on the face of it that would indeed seem to be the case. 

Trying to defend the Premier League title without Virgil van Dijk, the world-class lynchpin who holds their high-pressing defence together, is a big enough challenge on its own.

But the injury crisis has been by no means limited to the Dutchman.

His regular partner, Joe Gomez, has missed the majority of the campaign as well, while Joel Matip struggled for fitness in the first half of the season and suffered a term-ending injury in January, forcing Liverpool to bring in Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak at the end of the transfer window.

On top of that, emergency centre-half Fabinho has suffered niggles here and there, and captain Jordan Henderson - another midfielder who's been drafted into defence at times - has just been ruled out until April

Then there's Diogo Jota, the summer signing who came in and instantly freshened up the attack with a supply of nine goals. He's been sidelined since the start of December.

Indeed, the level of Liverpool's misfortune feels almost unprecedented. But statistically speaking, that actually isn't the case at all. 

An in-depth report from The Athletic has provided some interesting revelations.

Liverpool have been the Premier League's most injury-plagued team this season in terms of games missed by players - a staggering 155 - and Everton are the only club to have more players injured than the Reds - 18 to 20 - throughout 2020/21. 

However, when comparing to previous title-winners and title defenders, Manchester City actually had it worse in 2018/19 when they still managed to beat the Reds to the English crown by a single point. 

Counting the number of injuries that have kept players out for at least ten days, Liverpool's current tally stands at 28, but Pep Guardiola's City suffered a staggering 35 during their last title triumph. 

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Of course, there is one massive caveat here in the fact Liverpool's most significant injuries have all come in the same position, with even Fabinho and Henderson having fitness problems upon moving into central defence. 

Nonetheless, it does beg the question of whether Liverpool's injury crisis has really been cataclysmic enough to justify them dropping all the way down to sixth place, a massive 19 points off top, considering City overcame their injury problems to still win the title race a few seasons ago.

The fact of the matter is that every club has endured new challenges this term because of the global crisis, and maybe Liverpool haven't adapted to them quite as well as some of their Premier League rivals.  

You also have to question why Liverpool allowed themselves to enter the season without bolstering their options at centre-back when Matip's injury record is notorious and Gomez suffered a long layoff a few seasons ago.

The injury crisis is no doubt a factor in Liverpool's slump this season, but the club need to look at what they could've done better as well. 

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