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Liverpool offered chance to prove Rio Ferdinand wrong by ‘matching’ Man Utd

“What have they got in reserve to come in for these proven stars and maintain this level of consistency? That’s what we are waiting to see.”

The pre-season challenge Rio Ferdinand laid down to Liverpool's title winners, just eight games in, now appears almost prophetic.

The Manchester United legend highlighted the Reds' injury record during the season that saw Jurgen Klopp's men end thirty years of hurt at Anfield.

He added: “No one can say Liverpool had a freak season because they finished so far ahead of their rivals, but they did have one big factor on their side that they cannot guarantee going forward."

And little did anyone know just how quickly that so called "factor" would no longer be in Liverpool's advantage.

Of course, the argument that Liverpool somehow suffered no injuries during the 2019/20 season, is somewhat of a myth. Klopp was forced to replace his first-choice keeper for months, while the likes of Joel Matip and Fabinho both had spells on the sidelines.

But compared to the backlog seen in the opening two months of this campaign, last year looks a serene stroll.

Mohamed Salah's positive coronavirus test whilst with Egypt is just the latest in a long – and growing – list of key players set to miss crucial fixtures.

Add Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho, and the severity of the crisis engulfing the champions is made clearer.

Ahead of fixtures resuming in September, Ferdinand questioned the strength in depth at Klopp's disposal and questioned whether, beyond the first XI, there was enough to sustain a title challenge.

Can Liverpool still win the Premier League this season? Have your say below.

“The key for them has been having their key players fit for the best part of two seasons. It has been massive and what we have yet to find out is how they will cope if they are to lose a few big names for an extended period.

“When I look at the teams I played in when we were winning titles every season at Manchester United, we never had two seasons when all the top players were fit for the big games, so Liverpool have had some fortune there and obviously do things right on the medical side as well to get their players right."

Well if Liverpool had any sort of fortune on their side, that is well and truly gone.

Very few question marks remain about this Liverpool squad. Winning trophies at a domestic, European and world level tends to do that, but the latest glut of injuries offers a chance to dispel one of the queries still lingering.

Make no mistake, should Klopp keep his battered and bruised squad in contention, it will be an achievement to match the likes seen during Ferdinand's spell at Old Trafford.

And if they do manage that, even the most anti-Liverpool observer may be forced to tip their hat.

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