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Van Dijk's damage worries annoyed Liverpool – Alaska Freeway Information

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Virgil van Dijk has been a dominant – even transcendent – presence at the center of Liverpool's defense during the team's rise to the top of English and European football in recent years.

In a great concern for the Premier League champions, they may need some time to learn how to deal with their warrior behind them.

Van Dijk was the subject of a ruthless Jordan Pickford failure at the start of a Merseyside derby that was painful for Liverpool, with the Everton goalkeeper clattering into the Dutch defender's extended right leg.

Van Dijk roared in agony and tellingly stayed down. And then Jürgen Klopp knew that it was serious.

"Virgil has played I don't know how many games in a row, he plays with pain but he couldn't keep playing and that's not good," said Klopp after the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.

Indeed, Van Dijk, the English Footballer of the Year from 2018 to 2019, who had played every minute of the last 74 league games in Liverpool from September 2018, came off the pitch immediately after long treatment and hobbled cautiously across the field into the locker room.

There was no official word from Liverpool about the possible length of his absence, but Van Dijk is said to have left the hospital on crutches that evening. The broadcaster beIN Sports said it had received information that the player had damaged his anterior cruciate ligament.

With the draw, Liverpool extended their 10-year unbeaten record against their neighbor, but Klopp was a frustrated man as he set off on Goodison's brief journey home.

Aside from the fact that Pickford had escaped punishment for the challenge against Van Dijk – the VAR apparently didn't investigate the incident that took place after an offside – Klopp was unhappy that his team had not allowed a Jordan Henderson winning goal the second minute of added time. The VAR intervened this time and found that Sadio Mane was on the sidelines in a confined space.

Mane had given Liverpool the lead in the third minute, only Michael Keane equalized with a header on a corner. Mohamed Salah took the championship lead back with his sixth goal of the season, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored Everton's second equalizer by scoring a left flank for his tenth goal in seven club appearances in all competitions.

Van Dijk could have marked Keane and Calvert-Lewin for those two Everton chances. It may be a sign of Liverpool's future.

Everton lost points in their fifth game for the first time this season but remained three points ahead of Liverpool.

AGUEROS ACTION

Sergio Aguero failed to score for the first time in almost four months on his return to the Manchester City line-up. However, in City's 1-0 win over Arsenal, he was at the center of a potentially controversial incident.

In the 42nd minute, Aguero complained about a decision to assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis. As Massey-Ellis moved along the line of contact, Aguero walked next to her and put his arm around her neck, which would violate coronavirus guidelines.

The Argentine international was not sanctioned.

"Sergio is the nicest person I have ever met in my life," said city manager Pep Guardiola. "Look for problems in other situations, not this one."

Raheem Sterling scored City's winning goal in the 23rd minute of a highly competitive game at Etihad Stadium when the hosts did without the injured Kevin De Bruyne. City are in midfield and three points behind title rivals Liverpool, but they have a game in hand.

WITHDRAWAL FOR MAGUIRE, FERNANDES

Finally something to celebrate for Harry Maguire after a tough few months for the Manchester United captain.

Bruno Fernandes was also redeemed in United's 4-1 win in Newcastle.

Maguire scored a nice header for United's equalizer days after being sent off for England. He has spawned a few suspects who have defended for United this season after being arrested after a nightly incident on the Greek island of Mykonos.

Fernandes had a penalty when the score was 1-1 but scored a brilliant goal in the top corner after a counter attack in the 86th minute. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford added later goals.

CHELSEA EXPOSED

Chelsea's defensive vulnerability was exposed in a 3-3 draw with Southampton, which was leveled by Jannik Vestergaard in the second minute of stoppage time, having already moved down 2-0.

Timo Werner scored Chelsea's first two goals and played in Kai Havertz to make it 3-2, but the hosts were disappointed by terrible defenses and goalkeepers.

Kurt Zouma had a back pass for Southampton's second goal before goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga made two mistakes within seconds to allow Che Adams to score.

Kepa replaced the injured Edouard Mendy, while another new signing – central defender Thiago Silva – was also missing. While Chelsea's attack begins to purr as the key strikers return from injury, defense appears to be the biggest obstacle to a concerted title challenge for the team.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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