Liverpool hero Michael Owen admits his former side’s chances of winning back-to-back Premier League titles have taken a huge blow after recent injury problems. Liverpool are set to be without first-choice centre-back duo Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez for the majority of this season due to their respective knee injuries.
Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is also out with a calf problem, and there are doubts over a number of other members of Jurgen Klopp’s squad ahead of the resumption of domestic football this weekend.
Liverpool are currently third in the Premier League table, a point behind leaders Leicester ahead of Sunday’s clash at Anfield.
The Reds won the title by 18 points last term but early signs suggest that will not be as clear cut this season.
Owen would have no doubts over who he thinks would win the league if Klopp had a fully-fit squad to choose from.
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But the former England striker admits now it could be an open race.
Owen told talkSPORT: “Well I have no doubts if these players were fit then Liverpool are the best team in the land. I think they would win the Premier League.
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“This has now thrown it up in the air a little bit.
“From a Premier League point of view, I still think they can get by in virtually every game.
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“It’s when you get really tested because in some games, if you’re in a good team that are better than the rest, you can carry one or two players that aren’t quite at it.
“But it’s when you get into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, it’s when you play Manchester City at Anfield, things like that, then you can’t have any passengers in your team.”
Liverpool strengthened their squad in the summer with the acquisitions of Diogo Jota, Thiago Alcantara and Kostas Tsimikas.
But Owen says the absence of a player of such importance as Van Dijk can have a huge impact on results.
“Of course, Liverpool, the whole squad is very good,” he continued.
“But you’ve just got one or two players in any team, I don’t care who you are, that you look to and carry you to certain situations.
“When you’re in the tunnel before the game you look in front of you and behind you and think, ‘right, we’ve got a chance because we’ve got him in our team’. Van Dijk in particular is one of them.
“He’s a huge miss, but hey, who’s to say he won’t be back for those big games at the end of the season?
“A cruciate ligament injury is sort of five to six months if everything goes perfectly. So you never know. It’s a huge blow.”
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