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Pundit’s Choice: Virgil van Dijk

Pundit’s Choice: Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool supporters have been pretty satisfied in recent times despite seeing their team’s 100% start to the Premier League season come to an end on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp’s men went into their encounter with fellow high-flyers Chelsea having won each of their opening six league games, although they did suffer a 2-1 defeat to Maurizio Sarri’s side in the Carabao Cup just a few days earlier. And they looked to be heading for a first league loss as well when Eden Hazard gave the Blues the lead at Stamford Bridge, only for Daniel Sturridge to produce a moment of brilliance to secure a 1-1 draw for the Reds, and thus preserving their unbeaten start to the league campaign.

Thus, there have been many satisfied Liverpudlians up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be intrigued by recent comments from Sky Sports pundit Matt Le Tissier, who believes that Liverpool edge Manchester City when it comes to having the better defence, stating: ‘I’d go for them’.

And much of his judgement was based on the influence Virgil van Dijk has had on the Reds backline, and given where Liverpool were defensively this time last year, Le Tissier is right to pinpoint the vital Reds transformation on the former Southampton centre back, who he says has ‘certainly improved’ them.

Ultimately, Liverpool’s attacking endeavours under Klopp have never been in doubt given the sheer amount of goals they have scored under the German, yet up until recently there have always been question marks about his defence.

The likes of Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, and Ragnar Klavan simply weren’t good enough for long periods of last season to suggest that they didn’t have the capabilities to provide the Reds with a title-winning backline – between the three of them, they made too many errors.

Yet the arrival of van Dijk in January completely transformed the Merseysiders from a team that used to leak goals to one that regularly kept them out – of the 38 goals they shipped in the Premier League last term, 24 of them came before van Dijk made the move from Southampton.

Significantly, the Netherlands international appears to have prompted those around him to greatly improve, with Croatia international Lovren certainly upping his game in the second half of last season to help the Reds reach the Champions League final alongside helping his country reach the World Cup final – Joe Gomez has also come of age as a centre back alongside van Dijk this season.

Yes, the likes of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold also deserve huge credit for slotting in brilliantly at full back and becoming better players in the last few months, but much of Liverpool’s defence resurgence can be pinned down to van Dijk’s presence – he is without doubt one of the best centre backs in the Premier League.

Thus, not only does Le Tissier believe that the Reds edge City when it comes to the two teams’ respective backlines, but he is absolutely spot on to pinpoint van Dijk for his role in transforming the Liverpool defence.

Liverpool fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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