Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is adamant not even Manchester City would have won the league this season had they had to deal with the injury crisis he has endured.
Klopp lost influential centre-back Virgil van Dijk to a season-ending knee injury five matches into the Premier League campaign, before partner Joe Gomez joined him on the sidelines three weeks later and, in January, Joel Matip – the one remaining senior central defender – became the third long-term absentee.
The German had to mix and match, with midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson playing alongside the inexperienced Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams in defence, and even when he brought in Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies as cover in January, both had their own injury problems.
Despite being top of the table at Christmas, the impact of the injuries eventually caught up with Klopp’s side, who went into a 2021 slump but bounced back with seven victories in nine matches to leave them knowing that if they win their final match at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday,they will qualify for the Champions League.
Klopp has been ridiculed in some quarters for suggesting that would be a massive achievement considering they were well off the pace in eighth in March, but he believes it was the absolute maximum possible in the circumstances.
And he does not think any of their rivals could have done any better.