John Aldridge: “In a campaign where no team seems to be...

The fog is lifting in Liverpool and a light appears at the end of manager Jürgen Klopp’s tunnel.

Irgil van Dijk’s injury threw a huge cloud over the club and the injustice of sustaining a knee injury at the end of the season after his clash with Everton keeper Jordan Pickford left a foul smell.

However, you look at the Premier League results over the weekend and it is now clear that Liverpool can still dare to dream.

I noted in my column last week that Liverpool’s hold on the trophy they won so impressively last season was loosened when Van Dijk was sentenced to an extended hiatus, and I stand by that statement.

But a week later, Liverpool are at the top of the table in a season when there seem to be no conventional rules.

Shut down

Liverpool’s Fabinho in action with Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie in the Premier League clash in Anfield

Pool via REUTERS

Liverpool’s Fabinho in action with Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie in the Premier League clash in Anfield

Liverpool and Manchester City have been in a league of their own for the last two seasons in the Premier League, but nothing makes sense from what we’ve seen so far this season.

The absence of fans in the stadiums must play a role in the bizarre results we see week after week. The top 8, which include Everton, Aston Villa, Leeds, Southampton and Crystal Palace, confirm that we are in uncharted territory.

For neutrals, it’s interesting to see games that have produced a lot of goals and a lot of surprise results, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the top 4 have a few different clubs in the mix.

We’ve only played a handful of games so far, but it looks like more teams are ambitious in the Premier League this season and they still have that approach to attack when they face the big teams.

Sheffield United came to Anfield on Saturday and had a real success in Liverpool. The plan could have left them with a positive outcome if they had taken their risk.

VAR throws more uncertainty into the season as the madness of the decisions turns the game into a farce. The Blades penalty against Liverpool is a joke no one laughed at.

How could Fabinho be punished for a seemingly clean tackle outside the box on a night when Manchester United’s Harry Maguire got away with a stranglehold on Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta?

Shut down

Harry Maguire fights with Cesar Azpilicueta (Oli Scarff / PA)

Harry Maguire fights with Cesar Azpilicueta (Oli Scarff / PA)


Harry Maguire fights with Cesar Azpilicueta (Oli Scarff / PA)

PA

Harry Maguire fights with Cesar Azpilicueta (Oli Scarff / PA)

Answers on a postcard to this question and I am not guessing that we will clearly confuse too many as this campaign ruins for too many of us.

We can’t be surprised by anything VAR throwing at ourselves now, and it adds an extra element of madness to a season that has been difficult to explain on so many levels so far.

The VAR mayhem aside, the shape of the city must be a concern for their manager, Pep Guardiola.

They tended to be clinical against the smaller teams in the league and now they are struggling with the number of games they play to expand it to the full.

Sergio Aguero has a hamstring problem again now and it doesn’t look like they’re putting together a nine or ten game run that could take them to the top.

Teams like Leeds and Southampton continue to impress and appear to be able to take points away from all of the top teams as they continue on their current path.

With Champions League games now happening every week instead of every two weeks, teams that don’t play European football could have a small advantage over teams that fly across the continent every week, and that’s another element that adds dynamism changed.

The final factor could be that all teams have just a little bit more confidence this season as the lack of spectators means home advantage isn’t as important as it usually is.

I suspect we’ll be bringing some fans back to the stadiums at some point this season and that might help bring normality back to some degree, but until then I expect the madness to continue with insane results, now the norm .

Given all of the factors I’ve mentioned, it’s important for Liverpool to make progress in the Champions League as soon as possible. If they can win against Danish champions FC Midtjylland in Anfield on Tuesday evening, they will be well on their way to the round of 16.

They weren’t at their best in the opening game against Ajax, but it was important to get the win and I would expect more of the same from Klopp’s men on Tuesday.

Obviously they will miss the Anfield roar on a European night and Van Dijk’s absence will give Midtjylland hope they can score goals but the Liverpool striker line is still shooting and they should have too much for their opponents.

If they can keep center-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip fit and Fabinho continues to impress at the center of defense, they could come in decent shape in the Premier League and Champions League by January when the transfer window opens.

Liverpool have been linked with moves for Schalke defender Ozan Kabak and RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano and I would expect them to take a step in the January transfer window to bolster key defensive options that were already likely before Van Dijk’s injury.

At least Liverpool fans can now see that without their big man behind the scenes, all is not lost, like in a campaign where no one seems to be following the script. The champions are still in the mix to compete for trophies.

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