More strong performances followed, with clean sheets retained in three of the next four games with Mohamed Salah scoring freely. Liverpool looked like the team that won the league title for the first time since 1990 in the 2019-20 season.
All of that good form, on the other hand, appears to have evaporated in recent games, leaving a lot to be desired.
It began with a 3-3 tie against Brentford, then a 2-2 draw against Manchester City at home. In both of those games, they were unable to maintain their lead with less than 25 minutes remaining. They may have bounced back with back-to-back 5-0 wins over Watford and Manchester United, but the goal leaking has returned to haunt them, with Brighton & Hove Albion fighting back from two first-half goals to draw 2-2 at Anfield.
Then there was the recent meeting at West Ham, where the Hammers’ set-piece brilliance and attacking sharpness earned them a spectacular 3-2 victory.
It was Liverpool’s first league defeat of the season, ending a 25-match unbeaten streak that began in April when they were defeated 3-1 by Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals.
The Merseyside club also conceded cheap goals against AC Milan and Atletico Madrid in the current Champions League group stage, despite winning both games 3-2.
This raises a slew of concerns about what went wrong in Liverpool.
Van Dijk has been in shape all season, playing 90 minutes every game, much like the rest of the backline. Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, James Milner, and Harvey Elliott have all been injured in the midfield, which definitely limits the best possible selection in the middle of the pitch, but is it enough for such a struggle to resurface?
Liverpool can’t afford to keep dropping points as they have recently. It is common knowledge that accumulating too many draws can harm their title hopes. This was their undoing during the 2018-19 season, when they only lost once and drew seven times, compared to only two draws and four losses for eventual champions Man City.
This season, Liverpool has already drawn four times.
Although the season is only 11 games old, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp must find a way out of this situation as soon as possible if he wants to offer the Anfield crowd something to cheer about at the end of the year. Otherwise, he risks repeating the catastrophe of last season, and not even a fully fit Van Dijk would be enough to save them.