Virgil van Dijk has reworked Liverpool’s defensive report in virtually three years since his arrival – so how a lot will his absence harm them?
“It is an enormous blow,” former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock instructed BBC Radio 5 Reside. “It is going to positively hinder Liverpool’s defence of the title.”
Liverpool paid £75m, then a world report payment for a defender, to signal Van Dijk from Southampton in January 2018. Since then, they’ve received each the Champions League and the Premier League.
And a have a look at the stats present simply what an influence he has made.
Liverpool’s ever-present rock
Van Dijk has missed only one Premier League recreation since becoming a member of Liverpool. His two full seasons introduced a complete of 196 factors – they racked up 97 as they completed runners-up to Manchester Metropolis in 2018-19, then completed on 99 final season as they received the title by 18 factors.
The 2018-19 season ended with two private awards for Van Dijk – he was the PFA Participant of the 12 months in England, in addition to the primary defender to select up Uefa’s Participant of the 12 months award.
He performed all 38 Premier League video games that season as Liverpool conceded simply 22 targets – the bottom quantity in any of Europe’s high six leagues that season. Final season, they conceded 33, once more the bottom within the English high flight.
In Van Dijk’s 95 Premier League begins for Liverpool, they’ve conceded simply 78 targets and saved 44 clear sheets.
By comparability, within the 95 league video games earlier than his debut, they let in 117 targets and shut out the opposition 29 instances.
Why Liverpool might dearly miss Van Dijk
Since his first Liverpool look, Van Dijk ranks high for essentially the most Premier League clear sheets. Solely Manchester Metropolis goalkeeper Ederson can match his tally of 43.
The Netherlands captain performed a giant half in that report as a result of he’s so exhausting to beat. In 2018-19, he was the one participant to determine for greater than 1,000 minutes in any of Europe’s high 5 leagues with out being dribbled previous as soon as.
And since he joined Liverpool in January 2018, he additionally has one of the best success charge – 74.4% – of any participant concerned in at the very least 100 duels within the Premier League, competing in 812 and successful 604.
He additionally ranks second greatest in aerial duel success charge. Crew-mate Joel Matip edges him out of high spot there, by 75.7% to 74.6%, although Van Dijk has contested way more aerial challenges – 622 to Matip’s 173.
As a greater comparability, Manchester United and England centre-back Harry Maguire is fourth on the listing over that interval, having been concerned in 486 aerial duels – successful 359 to Van Dijk’s 464 – for a hit charge of 73.9%.
Of gamers to determine greater than 50 instances since Van Dijk’s debut, solely Manchester Metropolis pair Aymeric Laporte and Kyle Walker averaged extra minutes per objective conceded than the Reds’ centre-back.
However it’s outcomes that rely. So it’s maybe most telling of all that, throughout all competitions, Liverpool’s win charge with Van Dijk (130 video games) stands at 70% – whereas with out him (13 video games) it’s 46%.
Who can step up?
The priority for Klopp is whether or not his accessible defenders can step up and fill in.
Cameroon worldwide Matip, 29, and England’s Joe Gomez, 23, have shared partnership duties alongside Van Dijk in latest instances – however could now be known as upon to function side-by-side.
Matip made 22 Premier League appearances in 2018-19 however simply 9 final time period, whereas Gomez performed 28 instances final season following his 16 video games the season earlier than.
In 5 league matches thus far this time period, Gomez has began three and Matip one – with midfielder Fabinho additionally filling in alongside Van Dijk in opposition to Chelsea in September.
|Virgil Van Dijk||Joel Matip||Joe Gomez|
|Minutes per objective conceded||111||96||100|
|Aerial win charge (Whole aerials)||75% (622)||71% (331)||56% (262)|
Remarkably, Van Dijk has been overwhelmed by an opponent simply eight instances in 95 league video games for Liverpool – a statistic neither Matip (36) nor Gomez (42) can get near.
Nonetheless, after 76 Premier League video games, Gomez is but to make an error main on to a objective, whereas Matip – having performed eight video games fewer than Van Dijk – has made two, in opposition to the injured Dutchman’s three.
Van Dijk’s aerial presence might be missed at each ends of the pitch. The Dutchman has scored 10 Premier League targets since January 2018. Crystal Palace’s Patrick van Aanholt, with 11, is the one defender who can beat that whole over the identical interval. Matip has 4 league targets in 4 years at Liverpool, Gomez has none in 5.