BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks has lauded Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk for a crucial defensive challenge he made against Tottenham Hotspur during the Reds’ slender 1-0 victory in north London.
With Jurgen Klopp’s side leading at the time thanks to Roberto Firmino’s opener, Spurs went on the hunt for an equaliser in the second half, with the Dutchman coming to his team’s rescue thanks to a challenge on Dele Alli which had Crooks singing his praises. Naming Van Dijk in his Premier League Team of the Week for his critical intervention, Crooks told BBC Sport just why it was worthy enough of giving the centre-back a place in his weekly XI.
He said: “Dele Alli had roasted Joe Gomez and seemed to be bearing down on Liverpool’s goal – but that was to reckon without this Dutch colossus. Van Dijk weighs up the situation and realises in order to avert the crisis he is going to have to get his shorts dirty. It’s rare for the Netherlands defender to have to go to ground but the situation called for it.
“The tackle was beautifully timed, with the man bun still intact, the shorts slightly ruffled but no lasting damage to the image or brand. Job done. Clean sheet. Liverpool march on.”
Crooks’ explanation may be slightly tongue-in-cheek, though Van Dijk’s perfectly timed challenge came at a time when the Liverpool defence had become stretched, while he could ill-afford a miscued tackle as Alli entered the penalty area. Whether or not Alli would have gone on to score, it may have been a calculated risk from the Dutchman having decided to go to ground, but showed his class in executing the challenge with minimal fuss – and minimal damage to Liverpool’s superiority on the scoreline.
And by securing Liverpool’s sixth straight league clean sheet in the process, it is no wonder he has been selected by Crooks, whose former side Spurs could not break down the Reds barricade on a frustrating night at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Man buns aside, it appears Van Dijk’s inclusion is fully merited.
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