Chelsea v Liverpool pictures
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Virgil van Dijk is not prepared to dwell on the disappointment of losing Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita to the Africa Cup of Nations and instead wants the Liverpool trio to “make history” with their countries. The Reds have now bid farewell to their African contingent – besides Joel Matip – as they jet off to meet up with their national teams in Cameroon.
Their importance to this Liverpool side was clear for all to see at Stamford Bridge.
Both Mane and Salah were on target for the Reds in the first half before goals from Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic levelled things up before the break.
It was a whirlwind contest that really could have gone either way in the second half but a point was the fair result come the full-time whistle.
Liverpool are now 11 points adrift of league leaders Chelsea but can cut the gap to nine if they win their game in hand.
And while Liverpool will sorely miss their departing AFCON stars, Van Dijk has made it clear they have the full support of Kirkby behind them.
“First game of 2022 and it was an intense one. Points shared tonight,” he posted on Insta.
“We will keep going. Good luck to our African players at AFCON, make us proud!”
Van Dijk’s message was also echoed by Pep Lijnders, who says the players depart with the blessing of Klopp and his staff…
“I just told Sadio and Mo: ‘I wish you all the best in the Africa cup’,” he said.
“[I said]: ‘You’re already legends there, but everyone knows how it feels to play for your country. Go and try with everything you have and try and win it. Then you become an even bigger legend’.
“They have the right to fight for prizes, each prize that comes, as we all have the right to fight for prizes.”
Even if any of Liverpool’s players are to reach the final with their countries, they’re only expected to miss two Premier League matches.
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A post shared by Virgil van Dijk (@virgilvandijk)
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A post shared by Edouard Mendy (@edou_mendy)
That’s because Liverpool have a number of cup matches crammed into this month’s schedule.
They face Arsenal in a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final either side of their FA Cup third-round clash with Shrewsbury.
Liverpool then host Brentford on January 16 before travelling to Crystal Palace on January 23.
It appears forward Mane has jetted off straight from Sunday evening’s match.
International team-mate Edouard Mendy – who had claimed Mane was lucky to stay on the pitch – has posted a picture with his compatriot on a flight, seemingly heading to AFCON.
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