Centre-back decision must be made
An unprecedented, asterisk-laden season has already thrown up a plethora of statistician anomalies for Liverpool.
But one emerged here that highlighted why the consistency of last term has been glaringly absent.
This was the first time Jurgen Klopp has named an unchanged starting line-up since the Premier League title was lifted in memorable fashion.
The Champions League win over RB Leipzig in Budapest had at least stopped the rot after three successive defeats realistically ended hopes of defending the championship.
And Klopp’s show of faith meant there was a further outing for the centre-back pairing of Jordan Henderson and new signing Ozan Kabak.
It lasted all of 30 minutes before Henderson, tussling with Abdoulaye Doucoure, pulled up lame with a groin problem, leaving Liverpool without their three main centre-backs and two chief defensive midfielders.
No team can cope with that.
What didn’t help was Kabak having a bit of a nightmare first half. While by no means the only player to struggle with the swirling wind, his needless concession of a corner in the opening seconds set the tone, caught square for Richarlison’s opener moments later.
Intriguingly, he improved – and as did Liverpool as a whole – once Nat Phillips replaced the stricken Henderson, the substitute quietly assured.
Who knows. Maybe playing with two recognised centre-backs could be the way forward for the remainder of the season for the Reds.
Van Dijk offers painful reminder
If Virgil van Dijk’s presence on the sidelines was supposed to offer a reminder of what happened the last time Liverpool and Everton met, it instead served to underline an issue that is now debilitating the Reds to a worrying degree.
Yes, Van Dijk has been sorely missed for his defensive qualities. As the best player in the world in his position, that’s hardly a surprise.
But where the Dutchman’s absence is also being felt is as a leader. And Liverpool are lacking them right now.