Liverpool’s visit to the Etihad Stadium this weekend is highly anticipated, as they are just one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League standings. One of the key factors behind Liverpool’s improvement has been the resurgence of Virgil van Dijk. Last season, Van Dijk played a staggering number of games for both Liverpool and the Netherlands, despite recovering from a major knee injury. This took a toll on his form and led to a hamstring injury. However, now, three years after his injury, Van Dijk is feeling more like his old self and has regained his confidence on the field.
Liverpool’s rise in the league standings can also be attributed to their strong attacking force. Van Dijk has played a crucial role in their defensive performances, even in the face of ongoing issues surrounding midfield balance. With his help, Liverpool has only lost one game in the Premier League this season and has conceded the joint-fewest goals in the division. Van Dijk’s playing time is now being managed more carefully to keep him fresh for important matches. Despite not being as explosively quick as he once was, he is winning a high percentage of duels and aerial battles, indicating his continued dominance.
In possession, Van Dijk is completing passes at a higher rate and has reduced his possession losses by nearly 20%. He has met the high expectations placed upon him as a top center-back and has taken on additional responsibility as Liverpool’s captain. The armband has not negatively affected his game but instead has motivated him to perform at an even higher level. Van Dijk has also provided guidance to younger players in the squad and has demonstrated strong leadership qualities.
Mentally, Van Dijk is in a better place compared to last season, where he described his ACL injury as his “world collapsing.” Liverpool is reaping the benefits of his improved mindset, and he has played a significant role in their current success. Their upcoming match against Manchester City will be a crucial test of their title credentials, and while their midfield issues should be taken into consideration, Liverpool is in an excellent position in the league standings, largely due to Van Dijk’s contributions.