Liverpool end the first round of the Premier League season top of the table with three points to go with the most goals scored and greatest goal differential—not to mention the best xG-xGA differential—in their opening game, a 4-0 thumping of West Ham.
For many, it’s early confirmation of the talk heading into the season of Liverpool being a title contender and the only side likely to challenge Manchester City. Virgil van Dijk, though, says the focus isn’t on anyone else—Liverpool’s only concern is Liverpool.
“We’ve seen the media writing about us but we don’t really look at those things,” was the star centre half’s response when asked if Sunday’s victory proved right many of the bullish pre-season predictions. “We need to just focus game by game.
“We want to achieve greater things so we need to be ready for any challenge, any battle that comes to us. For us it is key that we don’t look too much at other teams. We need to look at ourselves and be ready every week for any opponent we face.”
Hopeful title talk aside, Liverpool certainly looked ready, thoroughly besting the league’s third top spenders over the summer—behind just Liverpool and Chelsea on net—who have targeted a push back into the top ten and maybe even a Europa League place.
West Ham, overhauled and under the management of ex-Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Villarreal boss Manuel Pellegrini, were made to look exceptionally average. And most of that is down to Liverpool’s quality and preparedness. They were, clearly, ready.
“We are very well prepared,” Van Dijk added. “We were looking forward to this game and I think everyone could see it.”