SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 6, 2023: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk lines-up before the FA Premier League match between Sheffield United FC and Liverpool FC at Bramall Lane. Liverpool won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Why Virgil van Dijk is not in the Liverpool squad vs. Arsenal

Virgil van Dijk is missing Liverpool’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal today due to illness.

The Dutchman was a surprise omission from a strong-looking line-up for the Reds at the Emirates Stadium.

And This Is Anfield understands that his absence is down to illness, rather than any decision to rest him.

The captain is sure to be missed as Liverpool look to secure passage to the fourth round at the expense of a fellow title challenger.

And it remains to be seen whether he will be recovered in time for a League Cup semi-final first leg against Fulham on Wednesday.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Jurgen Klopp confirmed: “Virgil is ill. We were actually kind of lucky in the last two or three weeks.

“Virg got a virus, we have to see tomorrow if he is OK for the next one. But for today, for sure, he is not.”

Van Dijk has made 20 appearances in all competitions this term, making a welcome return to his best form after a shaky 2022/23 campaign.

In his absence, Ibrahima Konate and Jarell Quansah have been paired at the heart of the Reds’ defence.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 7, 2024: Liverpool's Trey Nyoni during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is no established centre-back on the bench, with Nat Phillips not involved despite his loan spell at Celtic ending this week.

It is a young reserve group with an average age of 20.4, including 16-year-old midfielder Trey Nyoni for the second time this season.

Diogo Jota and Ryan Gravenberch are the only substitutes not to come from the academy, though the likes of Conor Bradley, Kaide Gordon and Luke Chambers all have first-team experience.