Virgil van Dijk’s half-time withdrawal in Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Brentford was a precautionary measure after the defender struggled with the intensity of the game, Jurgen Klopp explained.
With an Ibrahima Konate own goal and a Yoane Wissa header putting Liverpool 2-0 down before the break, Klopp rang the changes by removing Van Dijk, Konstantinos Tsimikas and Harvey Elliott from the action.
While replacements Joel Matip, Andrew Robertson and Naby Keita initially had a positive impact, they were unable to stop the Reds from sliding to their first defeat against the Bees since 1938.
Van Dijk began the game as captain with both Jordan Henderson and James Milner out, and his withdrawal led to suggestions he had sustained an injury.
However, Klopp outlined his belief that the Netherlands skipper had avoided any lasting damage in his post-match press conference, revealing: “Virgil felt a little bit the muscle but said he is fine, and he’s a very good judge of these kinds of things.
“But I didn’t want to take any risk – the physios looked quite happy when I said we don’t take risks. I think it is not an injury, he just felt the intensity.
“The other two were tactical. We obviously had the opportunities.
“We could bring in Naby, who I think played a really good game, and Robbo – and Robbo with the first action after half-time was exactly what we needed.
“We needed that speed in behind and so that was the reason for these two changes.”
Liverpool’s loss at the Brentford Community Stadium dealt a huge blow to their hopes of Champions League qualification, leaving them four points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United having played a game more.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 2, 2023
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