While no stone has been left unturned regarding talking points in the days that followed, the ACL injury for the 29-year-old – which could see him miss the rest of this season and possibly the Euros – does throw this season’s title race wide open.
The first major twist in this season’s race for the title, it’s no secret that having the Dutchman in their backline makes Liverpool a far greater team than without him, making their task of retaining their crown all the more difficult.
As Manchester City will point out however, the past two seasons they have had notable absentees, with Kevin De Bruyne making just 11 league starts in 2018/19 the season they won the league and Aymeric Laporte just 14 in 2019/20.
The mark of a great side is their ability to adapt, which is something Liverpool will have to do between now and the end of the season.
Premier League Game of the Weekend: Manchester United vs Chelsea
What a difference a week makes. Last weekend Ole Gunnar Solskajer was preparing for his first game post-international break off the back of their embarrassing 6-1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, with murmurs that he’s not to the right man to manage at Old Trafford becoming increasingly louder.
Now, however, they enter this huge game against Chelsea with back-to-back wins over Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain, with a notable improvement in their performances from ones earlier in the campaign.
They also have two men in form in Marcus Rashford, who followed up 2019’s heroics in Paris with another winner in midweek to make it two goals and two assists in his last two games, and Bruno Fernandes, whose penalty against PSG makes it two goals and an assist in his last two games.
Chelsea meanwhile are still searching for consistency under Frank Lampard. Their last Premier League result was a classic example of this, with things looking rosy going forward, resulting in Timo Werner‘s and Kai Havertz‘s first league goals for the club, but still looked a soft touch defensively.
A goalless draw in midweek to Sevilla is a positive in terms of a more resolute rearguard, with the additions of Edouard Mendy, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell helping achieve this, but it’s all about the long-term in that respect.
As well, the Blues will also want to avenge last season’s 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford, which got Lampard’s reign as Chelsea manager to the worst possible start.
Rest of the Weekend
The action starts from Friday, as Aston Villa – the side with the only 100% record in the competition – host Leeds United.
Saturday begins with a doubleheader from London, with West Ham United facing Manchester City and Fulham playing Crystal Palace, while Liverpool welcome Sheffield United to Anfield to round off the day.
Sunday begins at St. Mary’s as Southampton host high-flying Everton, with Wolverhampton Wanderers facing Newcastle and Arsenal taking on Leicester City at the Emirates.
There are two games on Monday, the first being Brighton & Hove Albion against West Bromich Albion, before Burnley host Tottenham.
Premier League Player to Watch: John McGinn – Aston Villa – £1.26
As the only side in the Premier League still will a 100% record, Aston Villa look a vastly-improved side to the one in 2019/20.
Already with a goal and four assists so far, the 25-year-old is a central midfielder that can do it all, and will fancy his chances on improving his record this season in what will likely be an open game against Leeds.