October 19 – English champions Liverpool have been a dealt a massive blow after it was confirmed that central defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk will endure a long layoff after suffering a serious cruciate injury in Saturday’s hotly contested Merseyside derby draw against league leaders Everton.
Van Dijk, who could also miss the Euros next summer, has been Liverpool’s most important player since joining for £75 million and was instrumental in them winning last season’s title and the Champions League the season before.
The Dutchman has been ever-present in the league over the past two seasons but will miss most if not all of the season after being taken out by Everton’s England international goalkeeper Jordan Pickford with a reckless challenge that merited a straight red card but didn’t even result in a yellow.
Pickford’s moment of madness, scything down van Dijk when in full flow and shown around the world, was not penalised since van Dijk had been caught offside by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). The incident, remarkably, was not regarded as serious foul play though some reports say Pickford could still be handed a three-match ban if the decision is reviewed.
To make matters worse for Liverpool, Pickford went on to make crucial saves in the second-half of the 2-2 draw while the visitors were denied what looked like a legitimate winner in the dying moments because of another crazy VAR ruling.
Jordan Henderson fired in from Sadio Mane’s low cross only for the Senegal winger to be adjudged offside by no more than a sleeve width. Liverpool are reported to have made a formal approach to the Premier League demanding an in-depth review of how the VAR system was used since it appeared Mane was actually onside.
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