The sight of Virgil Van Dijk, aka the best and costliest defender on the planet, limping following a collision with Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko in the Reds’ 2-1 win at the weekend (the aftermath of a clinic in 2 vs. 1 defending by the bye) briefly, even if prematurely, saw Liverpool’s title challenge nearly crumble right before their supporters’ eyes.
Interestingly enough, scientific studies have shown that Virgil Van Dijk hobbling with ice strapped to one leg is still better at football than approximately 82% of the center halves in the Premier League. That being said, with Liverpool chasing a first league triumph in 29 years and a return trip to the Champions League final, defender Joël Matip is glad his defensive partner is still up to snuff:
“I think he is not too bad,” the Cameroonian explained.
“After a game a few players always have some small injuries but I’ve heard nothing else, so I think he will be fit.”
The 27-year-old has stepped up in the absence of fellow defenders Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren to help stabilize the a historically-good defense battling on multiple fronts. While a major part of the sterling defensive record is due to the leadership of Van Dijk along the back five, Matip emphasized that the Liverpool way is to defend with every player on the pitch:
“Virgil has had a big impact on the whole defense but it starts at the front, we put pressure on the opponent,” he added.
“It makes life easier for us. The whole team is defending much better.”
The Reds have six games left in the Premier League run-in which will most likely require a club-record points tally to outlast the Manchester City juggernaut. The pressure is on and Matip believes that points will be sacrificed—both from his squad and their Mancunian rivals.
“I think it will be hard for both teams to play these kind of games without dropping points,” he continued.
“But we are only looking to our next opponent. That is the most important thing.”
Yeah, so let’s just not do the whole dropping points thing. The Reds will look to follow that advice as they take on Southampton Friday evening.