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Losing Jota has ripped out Klopp's ability to switch between systems

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For some reason, the neverending discussion around the collapse of Liverpool's Premier League title defence always seems to come back to Virgil van Dijk.

In the two months after losing Van Dijk, Liverpool reeled off nine wins, four draws and just one defeat to cruise into the Champions League knockout stages as group winners and move top of the Premier League.

If nothing else, the return of the Reds' No.20 provides hope for supporters that they can expect something different in the months ahead.

Even with an in-form Van Dijk in the side, that inability to trouble the opposition goal would have led to a run of unacceptable draws, rather than defeats Yes, there is a discussion to be had around the balance of a team that has weakened its midfield in a bid to replace its best defender, but there is no denying that simple wastefulness has been to blame at times.

Perhaps, then, Jota can be the wildcard that changes both Klopp's plan of attack and Liverpool's fortunes across the remainder of the season.

In the same period immediately after Jota's knee injury, they managed just five wins among four draws and five defeats to slip down to fourth place, 10 points behind leaders Manchester City.

As the obvious standout among the three centre-halves the Reds have lost to season-ending injury, it is perhaps no surprise that the Dutchman's absence is so frequently cited as key – often ahead of the cumulative effect of also losing Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
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