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Liverpool duo poised to vanquish Everton demons in emotionally-charged derby

Liverpool travel to local rivals Everton in the Premier League as Virgil van Dijk and Thiago return to Goodison Park having suffered major injuries there last season

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Klopp previews Liverpool’s trip to cross-city rivals Everton

17 October 2020: the day Liverpool’s Premier League title defence began to unravel.

The Merseyside derby draw at Goodison Park is not one Reds fans will revisit in a hurry, remembered chiefly for two ruinous injuries as well as two points dropped.

Firstly, Virgil van Dijk was felled by Jordan Pickford in the Everton penalty area in the early statges, with the magnitude of the blow to his right knee not yet known as he limped off the pitch.

Secondly, Thiago’s impressive start to his Anfield career came to an abrupt halt as Richarlison lunged in on his knee in the closing seconds, receiving a straight red card for his recklessness.

Capping a disastrous match during which Liverpool gave up the lead twice, Jordan Henderson’s added-time winner was chalked off for the narrowest of offside infringements.

What is your scoreline prediction for the Merseyside derby? Have your say in the comments!

Virgil van Dijk suffered a serious knee injury after Jordan Pickford’s dangerous challenge
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Image:

PA)

But only as the dust settled did the true cost of the 2-2 draw emerge.

Liverpool confirmed Van Dijk was unlikely to play again during the 2020/21 campaign as Pickford’s challenge had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

The Dutchman, widely regarded as the Reds’ most-important player, underwent surgery later that month and, as feared, he would not feature again until the following season.

Thiago, meanwhile, also suffered a knee injury which would ultimately rule him out for over two months, until very late December.

The Spaniard would only regain his best form towards the end of the season, while Liverpool endured arguably the worst injury crisis of their recent history as Joe Gomez and Joel Matip followed Van Dijk to the treatment room.

The battle-weary Reds lost their prized unbeaten home record at the hands of Burnley and, astonishingly, suffered defeat in their five subsequent games at Anfield in early 2021.

To add insult to literal injury, Everton were among those to capitalise on their rivals’ crisis by winning 2-0 away at Liverpool in February, marking their first Anfield victory since 1999.

Richarlison jumped in studs-up on Thiago’s leg in the 90th minute
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Image:

Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

The situation was bleak in the extreme and Liverpool dropped as low as eighth, yet Klopp pulled off one of the greatest feats of his managerial career by steering the club to a fourth-placed finish with a flurry of wins at the business end.

Boosted by Van Dijk’s return in pre-season, the Reds arrived at the start of the current campaign on a level footing and, with 13 games played, they appear poised to battle Chelsea and Manchester City for the title.

Their towering centre-back is back to his imperious best, while in midfield something exciting is developing.

Should Thiago line up in midfield against Everton? Pick your Liverpool XI below!

Thiago, with two goals in his last two games, is finally replicating his majestic Bayern Munich performances for Liverpool and he has forged a brilliant understanding with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.

Neither he nor Van Dijk appear to be carrying the baggage of the serious injuries they sustained at Goodison Park over a year ago, and they will be hungry to prove just that as they cross Stanley Park on Wednesday night.

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