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Liverpool counting cost of Diogo Jota’s absence as much as Virgil van Dijk’s

Firmino, who for the last four years has led the ball hunt with the usual midfield three, is suffering most with his lack of goalscoring magnified. He, like his attacking partners, will be transformed when Fabinho and Henderson are back where they belong.

How soon will that be? That is in the hands of the recruiters and the accountants.

The more Liverpool offer reasons as to why they will not sign a centre-back in January, the more it feels like they are prepared to tolerate a year-long experiment to prove no matter how makeshift their line-up, they can still be champions.

Immediate needs are colliding with longer-term goals. Only when the centre-backs return and midfield has a more familiar balance will Liverpool’s attacking swagger return. 

For all those concerns – and as much as rivals will talk about injuries being part of the fluctuating fortunes of a season – the question for those seeking to take advantage is if they do not punish Klopp’s Liverpool now, then when?

On the surface, this represented an encouraging point for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

Yet Liverpool’s four year unbeaten home record in the Premier League remains intact, even if at times on Sunday it felt like that had as much to do with reputation as the quality of their performance. Offered the chance to push on, United were still hesitant. There is still a fear of what Liverpool’s striker will do, even when they are doing it.

We are none the wiser as to whether United have what it takes to go the distance as we are whether Liverpool will retain their title with so many of their stars unavailable or compromised.

Whenever contenders meet there is a relentless hunt for clarity. After this dour, generally unsatisfying draw, anyone trying to predict the outcome of this title race is treading through fog.

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