Jamie Carragher admits Liverpool cannot afford to drop Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk from their starting lineup this season – if that luxury remains possible.
Both were on the scoresheet either side of half-time on Friday as the Reds extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to four points.
Whilst Salah’s predatory touch in front of goal proved decisive in breaking the deadlock, Van Dijk’s unflinching command frustrated the hosts in their efforts to respond.
The latter fittingly marked his Man of the Match display when he latched onto Salah’s clipped cross before finding the net with a controlled volley.
Carragher has deemed both as talismanic figures Jurgen Klopp must refrain from shifting as he continues with his team rotation.
He told Sky Sports: “Jurgen Klopp made two changes tonight and he’ll make more over the Christmas period but what he can’t afford is and he will never do change wise is Van Dijk and Salah.”
“The two players we saw involved in that second goal, Salah creates it and Van Dijk scores, I don’t see any game where those two could be taken out, certainly a Premier League game.”
“If those two could stay fit and play almost every Premier League game from now to end of the season then that would give Liverpool a great chance, because we speak at times about perhaps Manchester City having more quality than Liverpool in midfield but Man City don’t have a centre-back better than Van Dijk.”
Liverpool’s recent barrage of defensive injuries has put an added pressure on Van Dijk, in particular, to stay fit over a key festive period.
The Dutchman has arguably been the Reds’ most consistent performer all season, playing an instrumental role behind the club’s league-high 11 clean sheets.
Such has been Liverpool’s incredible defensive improvement with the 27-year-old that they have conceded just seven goals so far in this campaign.
Salah has meanwhile started to rediscover his top form, scoring eight goals in his last 12 league matches to restore his spot as the division’s leading scorer with 11.
So often is the spine of a team underlined as a defining aspect to any potential title challenge. In Van Dijk and Salah, Liverpool boast one of the best in the country.