Former Liverpool midfielder Ray Houghton fears any injury to Virgil Van Dijk could heighten the "anxiety" around Anfield as they look to end their desperate 29-year wait for a Premier League title.

The Merseysiders face Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash tonight without the towering Dutchman, who is suspended.

With Dejan Lovren carrying a hamstring injury, Jurgen Klopp could be forced to drop Fabinho back to centre-half but Houghton, who won two league titles with the Reds, says it's clear the fans only have eyes on the Premier League crown.

"I wouldn't say there's doubt, I'd say anxiety," Houghton said of the vibe around the club when speaking to the RTÉ Soccer Podcast.

"They're so close to getting what they want, which is to win the Premier League.

"If Liverpool are going to lose out it will be down to the fact that Van Dijk is missing for any length of time.

"This is what Liverpool have always been about. the atmosphere is absolutely electric. I was fortunate to be at most of their Champions League games last year when they made the final and it was sensational. They were brilliant. 

"I just wonder, with Liverpool trying to win the league for the first time in 29 years, when does it become a case of what's the most important trophy for them this year? Can they go in tandem?

"Manchester City look like they've a squad they can rotate around and it doesn't really affect them. They're playing with supreme confidence. I just wonder if Liverpool might even think, 'you know what, the most important thing for us this season is to win the Premier League, not the Champions League'."

Liverpool are second in the table on goal difference with a game in hand. That game is at Old Trafford this Sunday, a perilously tough trip. And Houghton has detected a little bit of a wobble in Liverpool over the last few weeks.

"I was pretty upbeat about Liverpool winning the title until I went to Anfield for the game against Leicester, and it's the first time I came away thinking, 'maybe not'. I didn't think the depth was quite there, I don't think the players were really focused on what was required.

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"I don't know if it was an edginess around Anfield, or with the players, but after going one-nil up early in that game they sat back and lost what they were trying to do and how they were going to go about winning the game.

"Leicester got it back to 1-1 and could have gone on to win it; they maybe should have gone on to win it. That worried me slightly.

"After that they had the draw against West Ham, backed that up with a win against Bournemouth. Even now, with the games they have left, there's a lot of them against team outside the top six, but defensively without Van Dijk it would worry me."

Follow Liverpool v Bayern Munich on Tuesday night with our live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App or watch it live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player from 7pm.