The big early news ahead of today's hotly anticipated meeting between league leaders Manchester City and Liverpool is that the Reds' record signing Virgil Van Dijk has been ruled out of the clash due to injury.
According to Liverpool correspondent James Pearce the £75 million man will miss today's game due to a "tight hamstring" and he "unlikely be risked".
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) January 14, 2018
Early team news suggests that Croatian defender, Dejan Lovren will be recalled to the starting 11 to start alongside Joel Matip as Liverpool look to inflict a first league defeat of the season on Pep Guardiola's City side.
Netherlands international Van Dijk obviously enjoyed a dream start to his Anfield career last weekend when he scored a late winner in the Merseyside Derby 3rd round FA Cup tie against Everton, however it now looks like Liverpool fans will have to wait a little bit longer for the Dutchman to make his Premier League bow for the Reds with Jurgen Klopp unwilling to gamble on his fitness.
— Sky Sports FF (@SkyFantasyFooty) January 14, 2018
During the week Van Dijk sat down with ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher for an interview aired on Sky Sports ahead of today's game. In the interview, the world's most expensive defender opened up to Carragher about what he can bring to a highly scrutinised Liverpool defence, with Carragher asking: "What do you think you can bring to the defence that is maybe not there at the moment?"
My qualities can always bring something extra, but as I said, the rest do it extremely well still. I think Joel Matip is a great defender, Dejan [Lovren] is very good defender, Joe Gomez is coming through the ranks, Ragnar Klavan obviously I know from back in Holland is doing very well too. I just want to work hard, show what I can bring, and if that's enough to play every week.
He also weighed in on that debut which sent both himself Red's fans everywhere into dreamland. Van Dijk admitted he wasn't even supposed to play last Friday with Reds Boss Klopp changing his mind at the last minute.
It was unbelievable. Some of my family and friends said you will score on your debut, but to actually do it, in the 84th minute, is something very special. It gave me goosebumps, and is something I'll never forget.
Of course it was heavily reported during last summer's transfer window that it was a three horse race for Van Dijk's signature between Chelsea, Liverpool and their opponents today Manchester City, with murmurs still during December that the big Dutchman was edging towards an almost certain Premier League Medal with Guardiola and Co. When asked "Why Liverpool?", he was quick to answer:
I think the size of the club, the fans, the players, the manager, the whole package here is amazing. You can see yourself that the atmosphere at every home game is amazing. I'm just very happy to play for the club.
Jurgen Klopp himself was also a big reason why Liverpool was the right choice for him:
Everybody knows how he is as a manager. You can see it on TV, how lively he is and how much confidence he can give players and pushes the team forward. I think it's a perfect fit for me as well. I think as a player you would love to have a manager who does that. Sometimes it's a bit crazy, but I like it.
Liverpool were humbled by Manchester City back in September 5-0 but the added "B-Story" of Virgil Van Dijk lining out against the league champions elect for the team he apparently chose ahead of them will have to wait for next season. That is of course unless we are treated to a Liverpool vs City clash in the FA Cup...or the Champions League?