Everton foul play dents Liverpool title hopes

Following a disgraceful Merseyside derby we now face the lasting result: serious injury to Virgil Van Dijk and possibly Thigao Alcantara.

During the match, which finished 2-2, there were several highly controversial incidents. The major ones both involved horror tackles from Everton players.

I'm not a big fan of 'shock and gore' but for anyone who didn't see the game you can catch up via the following clip which includes said incidents.

Both challenges were reckless at best and intentionally meant to injure at worst. Pickford's effort was knee high, at speed and of the scissor tackle variety. Richarlison's was studs showing, again at speed and aimed at Thigao's shin.

Thiago faces an anxious wait on scan results but clearly all is not well and Van Dijk has a now officially confirmed, damaged anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This a knee injury which requires surgery and a lengthy recovery period. It's quite possible Van Dijk may not play again this season.

The first thing to say is very best wishes to both players, in particular Virgil. Knee injuries are complex to recover from and while surgery is always improving many players who suffer this type of injury are never the same. Ex Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva being a prime example.

The next thing to consider is just how big of an impact this could have on our season. Van Dijk is unquestionably our best defender and after we sold Lovren and didn't replace him we are looking very short on centre backs.

Remaining centre backs are Matip, who's often unavailable because of injury himself. Gomez who is also often injured and recently has not been playing well, plus 23 year old Nathaniel Phillips. Phillips is an unknown quantity due to spending last season on loan at VfB Stuttgart.

Straight away we look to be struggling in defence and it seems almost certain Fabinho will have to switch to centre back for the foreseeable future. Thankfully he plays well in that position and we should have enough quality in midfield to cover. That could depend on Thiago's scan results.

Other worrying points: our general form in defence has not been stellar for a while. Adrian is looking like terrible backup between the sticks for yet another injured player in Alisson and all told we have way too many injury prone players.

That last point means this bad situation could at any moment rapidly deteriorate further.

Looking at it positively, we've brought in new players and have a far stronger attack. Nester Joe has mentioned we may have to return to a balls to the wall, all out attacking style of play, so Mane, Mo, Bobby Firmino and Co can make up for a leaky defence.

Joe could very well be right. Whether we set out intentionally with that aim or are forced into it, the good news is we have Jota and Minamino to help and both have been in great form.

This season we look at our bench during a match and feel more confident we have players who can make a winning difference.

So all is not lost. We will double our efforts in the hope of doing Van Dijk proud and if any team can triumph through adversity it's Liverpool.

Regarding the two tackles which have brought us to this point.

We cannot know the amount of intent which was involved in terms of causing harm. It seems however that Pickford and Richarlison purposefully made those types of challenges and I think it's time the punishment began to fit the crime.

Romper suggested in previous Nest comments that the offending player should miss the same number of games as the player they've injured. I think this or something close to it is a good and reasonable idea. Another thought is perhaps the perpetrator's team should be docked points.

If Everton fans were to look in I'm certain they would feel this was sour grapes but let's not downplay the severity of this subject. The type of challenges under discussion can end player's careers.

Flying in at speed, feet off the ground, aimed at shins, knees etc, is something more at home in the UFC. It's basically assault on a football pitch and players injured by such recklessness, in my view, should be quite within their rights to take the offender to court for damages.

That should not need to happen, what should happen is the powers that be introduce new rules and guidelines for this subject. It's long overdue and how many more players have to suffer horrendous injury before action is taken.

Football is not a non-contact sport and I'd hate for them to become too strict on tackling but is it time that we said no going to ground?

For posters who have played, how hard is it when slide tackling to keep your feet low to the deck? If there is a risk always that they may end up contacting shin bone or higher then it probably does need to be banned. And/or in my opinion the penalty needs to become far heavier.

Please post your views on what can be done to stop serious injury as a result of poor tackling.
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