Can Liverpool reverse their worrying away form?
by Chris Bascombe in Amsterdam
Virgil Van Dijk says it’s time for the real Liverpool to show up to reverse their worrying form and secure Champions League progress.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have won just one of their seven away games this season, a stark contrast to their comfort at home after winning six of Anfield’s eight unbeaten games.
Despite an emphatic away win against Rangers in their last European fixture, Van Dijk knows a tougher challenge awaits him at Ajax’s Johan Cruyff Arena.
“We want to show that we are Liverpool – one of the biggest teams and the biggest clubs in the world,” Van Dijk said.
“We must not forget ourselves and who we are. We want to improve the situation, we want to improve the away results. It starts tomorrow.
“This [the away form] is not something we like. It’s something we want to improve as a group. We will try to show the intensity that we always want.
“We need it, obviously, in every game we play, whether away or at home. It is always a difficult task and it is a different question.
A point in Amsterdam would seal Liverpool’s 16th place for a sixth consecutive year, but a defeat would leave them sweating a result against an impressive Napoli side on the final day.
Klopp attributes Liverpool’s erratic form to an injury-ravaged campaign that denied him consistency in selection and performance.
His options will improve on Wednesday with Darwin Nunez, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold set to return to the starting lineup.
But Thiago Alcantara is still missing due to illness and Klopp’s medical team have advised caution over the number of minutes given to recently recovered players.
“They come back and play and they have another one – not an injury – but, as I say, they have ‘things’ and they’re not allowed to play. They can’t play more than 20 minutes, they can’t not do this and they can’t do this and all that stuff,” Klopp said.
To add to the frustration, two of Liverpool’s in-form players – Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – were left out of the Champions League squad in August because they weren’t expected to be fit so soon.
“The situation doesn’t get resolved overnight,” Klopp said.
“You ask me if Ibrahima Konaté is now ready to play. He trained well yesterday. He hasn’t been out for long but he had a muscle problem and now it’s about whether he’s ready to play 90-95 minutes, I’m not sure. Same with Naby [Keita]. He needs to practice. Same with Ox. He needs to practice.
“They’re not in the Champions League squad because everyone told me they’ll be out longer. If they’re back that’s fine but they’re not back for play.Curtis [Jones] is back, a few more are back. I have nothing to complain about, nothing.
“I’m really looking forward to playing. It’s the Champions League, it’s Ajax – big names, big games. It’s perfect. We have enough players here and we’ll give it a good try. Our squad is not too small, it’s just that we have too many injuries, we have enough players here and that’s good news for the people who are with us.