Analysing Virgil van Dijk’s game vs Crystal Palace – Why the Dutchman can become an Anfield legend in the future
Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Selhurst Park to continue their winning start to the season. It was quite a tough and scrappy game for the Reds, who had to rely on their defence and goalkeeper to provide them with the base for the two goals they scored.
Virgil van Dijk, who was bought for big money in January, has made a significant difference at the back. The good thing about the Dutchman is his ability to dominate games in his area and also help players around him to do their jobs perfectly.
Perusing his performance against Palace on Monday night, the 27-year-old did not put a foot wrong and was key to Liverpool keeping a clean sheet at such a tough venue.
Here we analyse van Dijk’s performance in numbers and how he guided Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold to do their jobs around him – a mark of a legend in the making:
Aerial Duels won – 9
Winning aerial balls is pivotal against Palace, especially when playing at Selhurst Park, as Roy Hodgson’s side play long balls towards Christian Benteke and/or rely on set-pieces to score a goal. So, van Dijk winning nine aerial duels means he nullified his opponents’ key threat.
The Dutchman helped Gomez in a way that he went across the backline to win aerial balls, and told the Englishman to play as a sweeper. It not only aided the 21-year-old to play his natural game, it enabled van Dijk to do the thing which is natural to him – which is winning balls in the air.
Tackle rate – 100% (2/2)
van Dijk was very good in ground defending, making two vital tackles to stop attacking players from having a free run at goal. The 27-year-old is so confident and commanding in what he does, and helps the players around him to comprehend that and perform their roles specifically.
Pass Accuracy – 92.4% (10 accurate long balls)
The Dutchman’s propensity to pick out incisive passes is right up there as well. He had a pass accuracy of over 90%, which indicates the fact that he can be relied upon in possession to not give away easy balls.
The centre-back also completed 10 accurate long balls straight to the frontline, which proves his capacity to start off quick attacks under pressure.
Touches in the match – 91
Having touched the ball 91 times is something a midfield player would be proud of. Hence, for a defender, it is just incredible. Just goes on to show how influential he is when the ball is in and around the Liverpool half. He was just 5 touches shy of the combined count of Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins – Palace’s defensive pairing.
It was a tough game for the Liverpool attackers, where they couldn’t find the rhythm and touch to constantly probe at a compact defence. Hence, van Dijk’s performance is commendable because he not only did his job perfectly, but also made youngsters around him to do their duties and keep the clean sheet for the team.
These are some positive facts for someone who can become something big for the club in a few years. In seven months at the club, he has justified his price tag.
Stats Courtesy – Squawka