Reds talisman Virgil van Dijk is confirmed to have suffered a major knee injury which could see him ruled out for at least five months.
The Dutch defender was subject of a horror tackle from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in last weekend’s Merseyside derby which ended 2-2 at Goodison Park.
Van Dijk’s lengthy lay-off has opened the door for title rivals to swoop in on their crown in what has already proven to be a competitive league season.
Everton currently sit top of the table on 13 points having only dropped one point, while Aston Villa are second on 12 with a game in hand.
Liverpool are third, but suffered a shocking 7-2 loss to Villa before the international break, while City and Chelsea are also stuttering.
However, Reds hero Nicol expects the Blues, City and Tottenham to be the teams that challenge the champions, while he admits that Jurgen Klopp’s side will be vulnerable without Van Dijk.
‘I think the only thing we can foresee is Liverpool struggling with teams countering against them,’ Nicol told ESPN FC.
‘Of course, you talk about Virgil van Dijk, you add Alisson to that because those two players were the catalysts for Liverpool stepping up to a completely different zone in terms of what the team was all about.
‘It depends whether Liverpool can outscore teams every time they step on the field.
‘I would say there’s probably four teams that are going to fight it out and it’s difficult, you could find an argument for and against why one of these four teams could win.
‘I still think Liverpool could still win the Premier League, but I’m certainly not anywhere near being as comfortable as I was this time last week.
‘Liverpool, City, Tottenham and Chelsea for me are the four sides that are going to be competing for this title. It’s tough to think that anybody else could join that four.’
‘At the end of the day, they have been impressive, but it’s four games, they’ll certainly be in the top half of the table.’