Van Dijk Has Had An Unbelievable Effect On The Liverpool Defence
Liverpool‘s defensive stats this season are striking by any normal standards but the transformation from last year shows just how much of an impact Virgil van Dijk has had in a short time.
Last season Liverpool felt very much like a ‘cup team,’ somewhat proved by their run to the Champions League final, and they were never going to win the Premier League, especially with Manchester City‘s incredible season.
There’s no doubt that Jurgen Klopp’s team last season were one of the best sides to watch. Whilst City scored the most goals by miles the Reds were in second place with 86 in the league.
In the Champions League Klopp’s side twice scored seven past their opposition and scored five in a game on another two occasions.
The problem was at times Liverpool games looked more like basketball matches than football matches with attack going one way and then another.
Liverpool conceded 38 in the league and conceded three and four in separate Champions League games. It felt like a rarity that they’d keep a clean sheet.
That’s no longer the case this season and though Liverpool‘s attack was back to it’s marauding best on Wednesday against Watford, in a 5-0 win, the match brought up a stat that proves just how good the defence is now:
A slight change in tactics and personnel both behind and in front of the defence no doubt helps but the biggest change has to be Virgil van Dijk.
When Klopp signed the Dutchman last January, having tried the previous summer and failed, he claimed that one player wouldn’t change the fortunes of his team but Van Dijk seems to have proved that wrong.
His aerial ability is second to none, he has shown great leadership and maturity at the back and the added bonus is the fact he can bring the ball forward to help with the manager’s style.
On Wednesday it was a total performance by the Reds’ defence as Van Dijk bagged two goals, Trent Alexander-Arnold assisted three goals and the other two were set up by Andrew Robertson.
The change has been drastic and seen Liverpool go from ‘cup team’ to potential champions. Van Dijk isn’t the only factor but he’s a huge one.