Liverpool have had to contend with increasing positive Covid cases throughout the last month, forcing team dynamics to change at a crucial juncture in the season.
Following the emergence of the new variant, Omicron, Covid cases worldwide have soared and that has been no different in English football.
It has led to depleted squads and countless postponements, to which Liverpool are no strangers to following a “severe outbreak” of their own this past week.
Liverpool’s No. 4 tested positive on the day of the Newcastle game, throwing a late spanner in the works and the Dutchman has explained how even a handful of cases have impacted Liverpool.
“City got through the month of December particularly well,” Van Dijk said in his interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, as quoted by the Mirror.
“They had few injuries and few Corona cases and that helps enormously.
“A big club like Liverpool still has good quality players, but the rhythm and dynamics of the team changes at such a time.
“There are still so many games to play – but you also need a bit of luck at this stage.”
Since the Newcastle game, Liverpool have had various absentees due to Covid and have failed to win any of their subsequent three league matches.
Man City, on the other hand, charged ahead having only recently been impacted by Covid themselves – establishing an 11 point lead at the top having played a game more than the Reds.
And while it seems inevitable that every club will have to contend with positive cases, Van Dijk’s words go to show just how influential even a handful of cases can be, let alone a club-wide outbreak.