Virgil van Dijk is hopeful Liverpool have rediscovered what it takes to push Manchester City all the way in the Premier League title race again.
The two had epic battles in 2018-19 and 2021-22, when City pipped their north-west rivals by just a single point, while in between those campaigns the Reds clinched their first championship in 30 years.
Having experienced a huge dropoff last season in finishing fifth, Jurgen Klopp’s side have bounced back after a summer midfield rebuild and will resume after the international break with a trip to the Etihad in a first-v-second clash.
It is the closest Liverpool have been to City in 18 months and Van Dijk believes with consistency in results and fitness they can mount a sustained challenge.
Asked whether he thought they were capable of running City close for the title, the captain said: “I hope so.
“You have all these aspirations, dreams, goals and you want to compete until the very end in every competition we are in.
“That is definitely the case at the beginning of the season and then you grow into a season. It’s November and there is still so much to play for.
“It’s going well, but if we had not got a result against Brentford (a 3-0 win at the weekend) we would have been in that downward spiral – from the outside world of course – because you don’t set it up nicely for the game after the international break.
“Overall this season we have been doing well but the season is not decided in November and there could be so many twists and turns, we all know that.”
Key to that will be staying injury-free. Against Brentford, Liverpool’s options were down to the bare minimum with Alexis Mac Allister suspended and Ryan Gravenberch, Curtis Jones, Thiago Alcantara and Stefan Bajcetic – plus defenders Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson and Ibrahima Konate – all unavailable.
Klopp fielded a bench in which only one outfield player was aged over 20 but they got the job done to move into second and set up the intriguing trip to the Etihad a week on Saturday.
“I looked in the dressing room and it felt like we were the under-23s but we still we have the quality, if you are good enough you are old enough,” Van Dijk added.
“But we need to see, we need a bit of luck, we need no injuries and need consistency.
“We finished on a positive feeling and now it is time to focus on something else (internationals).
“When we come back there is a very big one away and we will see if we are ready for that test.”