Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez expects a “tough” duel against one of his former team-mates when the Clarets take on Liverpool tomorrow.
The 30-year-old is likely to come up against Virgil van Dijk, who was previously a colleague of his during their mutual time at Southampton, and the English forward is well aware of the defensive prowess of a man who has been ever-present in the Reds’ Premier League-winning campaign.
As per Burnley Express, Rodriguez said of the Dutchman: “He’s tough, he’s quick, strong, he reads the game so well and gets into some good positions. He’s one of the best defenders in the world and he’s got everything you need.
“He always made it difficult in training, but he was good fun to train with and play alongside. He helps the team; just look at what he’s done at Liverpool.
“It’s always a tough ask against him and I think every striker will tell you the same. You’ve just got to stick to what you know and try to impose your game on him as much as you can.”
Van Dijk’s reputation as one of the best defenders in the Premier League is not difficult to understand. He played every minute in the league for a Liverpool side who conceded the fewest goals in the division last season, with both of those facts currently on course to be maintained this term.
He is the reigning PFA Player of the Year and came second in the 2019 Ballon D’Or, while his performance statistics show how accomplished a footballer he is – the most passes of any player in the Premier League (almost 600 more than Trent Alexander-Arnold in second), the seventh-best aerial duels average in the division (five headers won per game), the most valuable centre-back in world football according to TransferMarkt at £72m.
However, Rodriguez goes into the game at Anfield off the back of netting the winner against West Ham in midweek, his 10th goal of the season and his second in his last three games. He also has one happy memory of facing Van Dijk, scoring twice against the Dutchman and his Liverpool colleagues in a 3-2 FA Cup win for West Brom on Merseyside in 2018.
Van Dijk certainly seems like an imposing player to be up against, although Rodriguez should have plenty of confidence following his midweek winner, while he may know some of the Liverpool man’s few weaknesses having played with him at Southampton.
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Also, the Reds coughed up 12 shots to Brighton on Wednesday night, so their defence can be got at if Rodriguez and his attacking team-mates are at their sharpest. It promises to be an intriguing duel.
Burnley fans, can Rodriguez get on the scoresheet at Anfield tomorrow? Share your views in the comments section below!
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