Home » English Premier League » 4.3 Aerial Duels/Game – This Premier League Defender Can Improve Liverpool’s Defence Considerably

4.3 Aerial Duels/Game – This Premier League Defender Can Improve Liverpool’s Defence Considerably

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Liverpool transfer news: Southampton star Virgil van Dijk analysed by WhoScored

If there is an Achilles heel that could ruin Liverpool’s lofty ambitions this season, and as well pour cold water on their flying start to the campaign, it’s their central defence.

The Reds have proven to be very weak at the back, keeping only 2 clean sheets in 12 Premier League games, with both coming against teams that could only muster a combined 1 shot on target when they met.

With that in mind, Klopp is very wary of the havoc such shortcomings can wreck to his team, and has identified Southampton centre-half Virgil van Dijk, as a possible January arrival to help fix Liverpool’s faulty defence.

The Dutch ticks all the boxes and is just the perfect man to improve Liverpool’s ailing defence. And considering the smooth working relationship between both clubs, an Anfield switch is very feasible for the 25-year-old.

At the moment, these are some of Liverpool’s key defensive weaknesses: aerial duels, individual errors, and inability to protect a lead.

We have seen the latter happen against Tottenham, while they were lucky not to have ended up drawing against Arsenal, Chelsea, West Brom and Crystal Palace, as the clubs almost got close to completing comebacks against them.

Individual errors were responsible for some of the goals they conceded against Burnley, Leicester City, and Crystal Palace, with the latter also exploiting their lack of aerial alertness at the back to score their 2nd.

For starters, van Dijk is able to provide a direct solution to their aerial problems, given that he wins 4.3 aerial duels per game on an average. Lovren also equals that, but his alertness and consistency leave a great deal to be desired. And even the 6’5” Matip averages just 2.4 aerial duel wins per game.

But even at that, the Cameroonian is the better of Liverpool’s defensive pair for a whole lot of reasons, leaving his Croatian partner the most vulnerable to get dropped if the Dutch defender is lured away from the Saint Mary’s.

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With 51 headed clearances thus far, he beats Matip’s 30 and Lovren’s 23, with both Liverpool players combining to make only 3 more than him. Since the start of last season across the league, only 2 players have made more headed clearances than Dijk’s 211.

So, with teams almost very likely to switch to a direct approach of making crosses into the box whenever they are in frantic search for the goals, the Reds can be rest assured there is nothing to worry about with this no-nonsense enforcer at the back.

Van Dijk’s top level concentration abilities during games also mean Liverpool can comfortably protect their leads, leaving teams with virtually no chance to be able to peg them back because of his high level of alertness.

He is also an equally great ball-playing defender just as much as Liverpool’s centre-back pairing. Lovren has 85% average pass accuracy, while Matip’s 87% is one of the best around.

Dijk isn’t far behind, as the Southampton ace’s 84.5% average pass accuracy from an average 50.5 passes per league game means he will do just fine and feel completely at home with Liverpool’s style of play.

He might not have scored in the Premier League yet this season, but his 3 goals in 34 games last term assures one that he is also able to find the back of the net like Matip and Lovren, who have 1 and 2 goals thus far respectively this term.

Dijk betters an average shots per game ratio on 1.6 shots per game, compared to Matip’s 0.4 and Lovren’s 0.6. However, scoring goals isn’t Liverpool’s problems, defending them is.

If Southampton will be willing to sell in January isn’t known, but his newly signed 6-year deal that expires in 2022 isn’t really a problem for a selling club.

Peradventure, Liverpool gets to eventually prise him away, he will be playing a very great role in providing much-needed steel at the back for the Reds.

And that’s exactly what is currently missing to make them a complete team capable of challenging for the title on all fronts and at both ends of the pitch.

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