- Liverpool lose star defender Virgil Van Dijk to torn ACL
- Liverpool’s odds to win Premier League dip from +130 to +180
- Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw at Everton amid a number of controversial referees decisions
Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw on Saturday afternoon in the Merseyside Derby. The result was a good one for Everton, who are still unbeaten and have retained their spot at the top of the Premier League table.
The draw was a costly one for Liverpool, however. Not only was a Jordan Henderson goal in the game’s dying minutes waved off by a questionable decision by VAR, but Liverpool may have also lost star central defender Virgil Van Dijk for the remainder of the season. Van Dijk has reportedly suffered a torn ACL after taking a harsh challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the game’s fifth minute.
Pickford was not disciplined by referee Michael Oliver for what looked to be a clear foul. Later in the game, Everton striker Richarlison was sent off with a straight red following a nasty challenge on Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara.
Information on Virgil van Dijk is that he’s done his ACL which would keep him out for the best part of 7-8 months. [BeINSports] pic.twitter.com/EvyhlKW6aL
— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) October 17, 2020
Alcantara has also undergone an MRI on his knee to determine the extent of the damage on his own injury, but it is not expected to be as serious as Van Dijk’s. Alcantara finished the game, while Van Dijk exited immediately.
VAR official David Coote reportedly declined to review Pickford’s challenge to analyze the play for a potential red card. That decision angered Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool enough to cause the team to officially demand an explanation for the refereeing from the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL).
Coote decided against reviewing the foul on Van Dijk after Liverpool were ruled to have been offside. The offside decision thus negated the play on which Van Dijk was injured by the Everton keeper.
Henderson’s goal two minutes into stoppage time that temporarily put Liverpool ahead 3-2 is also under scrutiny. The goal was taken off the board after a lengthy VAR review ultimately judged that Sadio Mane was offside when he received a pass from Alcantara earlier in the build-up.
Every angle shown on the broadcast showed that Mane was clearly in an onside position when the pass from Alcantara was made, but the referees ultimately ruled that he was narrowly in front of Everton defender Yerry Mina.
Reds’ Premier League Title Odds Take A Hit
Liverpool are currently second in the Premier League table behind Everton with 10 points from five games. The Reds were thrashed 7-2 in their most recent game prior to Saturday’s Derby by Aston Villa, but Mane and Alcantara both return to the lineup on Saturday after missing the last fixture.
The loss of Van Dijk will be devastating to a Liverpool defense that has been the league’s stingiest since he came over from Southampton three seasons ago. Van Dijk started next to Joel Matip for the first time this season after Matip missed the beginning of the season with a muscular injury. Joe Gomez wound up replacing Van Dijk after the latter left the game with his knee injury.
Beyond Matip and Gomez, the only other trusted center back option in the squad seems to be Fabinho, whose traditional position is as a defensive midfielder. Dejan Lovren was sold to Zenit Saint Petersburg over the summer. Liverpool are also playing without No. 1 goalkeeper Alisson, who is sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder issue.
Liverpool entered Saturday’s game as +130 favorites to win the Premier League for the second season in a row, but Saturday’s draw combined with the Van Dijk injury news has dropped the Reds to +180. They have since been surpassed by Manchester City (+140), who faced Arsenal at the Etihad on Saturday afternoon.
The Reds are slated to begin UEFA Champions League play against Ajax this coming Wednesday before hosting Sheffield United at Anfield next Saturday.