Wijnaldum slams 'unacceptable' Everton after Van Dijk injury

By Sports Desk October 20, 2020

Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum has blasted Everton's conduct as "completely unacceptable" following injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara sustained in Saturday's Merseyside derby.

Van Dijk is likely to miss most of the campaign after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage following a wild challenge from Jordan Pickford in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.

With Van Dijk having been flagged offside, Everton's goalkeeper did not receive any punishment for the tackle, while the Football Association confirmed on Monday that Pickford would not face retrospective action.

Premier League leaders Everton did subsequently have a player sent off, with Richarlison seeing red for a lunge on Thiago late on, and the former Bayern Munich star has not made the trip to Amsterdam to face Ajax in the Champions League.

Richarlison's red card was the 22nd sending off in a Merseyside derby in the Premier League era, with the Toffees having had 15 players dismissed.

The incidents left a sour taste for Wijnaldum, with the Dutchman believing Everton – who had four players carded on Saturday compared to Liverpool's two – have a track record of being too robust in derbies.

"Of course we are upset. The way Pickford went in was completely stupid," he said.

"I believe he didn't want to injure Virgil, but the way he took the tackle, he didn't care. I think we've had it a lot in the games against Everton.

"In my opinion, they take it way too far in the games we play against them. Sometimes you go a little over the top, but this was too much.

"We can talk about the tackle from Richarlison, it was also a nasty one. That's what bothered me the most. Accidents can always happen, you can be unlucky, but the way they were doing it was completely unacceptable. It makes it harder that they don't get punished."

While Richarlison issued an apology for his tackle on Thiago, it was confirmed on Sunday that Van Dijk will require surgery and Wijnaldum acknowledged that the squad are hugely concerned for their star defender.

"First of all we're still devastated, it's also different than normal. The way it happened is really hard for us," he added.

"Everyone has a really bad feeling about it. When we were speaking with the players after Saturday I think none of the players slept because of what happened with Virgil. It's a really hard one to take.

"People will say that because Virgil is really important part of our team. He had really big performances, a really important player for us, a leader.

"It's quite normal people will say that, but it's up to us. It's a situation we didn't deal with before, but it's what we have to deal with. Everyone can see what kind of impact he's had."

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