Virgil van Dijk endures difficult afternoon at Anfield following failed Liverpool pursuit

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Virgil van Dijk faced Liverpool for the first time since the Reds’ failed pursuit of the Southampton defender in the summer, enduring a mixed game.

The Dutchman is very likely to be playing in a red shirt at some point in the near future, but this was an unhappy Anfield experience as the visitors lost 3-0.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look at Van Dijk’s performance.


Command

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 28, 2017: Southampton's Virgil Van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is no doubt Van Dijk is a classy player.

Playing almost as a sweeper, the 26-year-old was good at spotting the danger in front of him and intercepting, although the visitors did get increasingly over-run as the match wore on.

He got Saints out of trouble at the start of the second half with an inch-perfect tackle and was his usual commanding presence in the air.

That strength in particular would be a big asset to Liverpool.

But at times he appeared reluctant to get fully stuck in, and it was he who let Mohamed Salah go for Liverpool’s second goal.

Distribution

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 28, 2017: Southampton's Virgil Van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another of Van Dijk’s qualities is his comfort on the ball, and he was more than happy to bring the ball forward out of defence, taking three or four touches where other defenders would have only taken one or two.

His attempts at long-range passing were not so successful, with one clipped ball to Nathan Redmond sailing harmlessly out of play in the first half.

Overall Impact

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 28, 2017: Southampton's Virgil Van Dijk during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Van Dijk was clearly Southampton‘s best defender, that counted for little in the final result.

The Saints defence as a whole struggled to cope with the threat of goalscorers Salah and Philippe Coutinho, with most of the danger coming from wide positions.

The second goal was the major black mark against Van Dijk personally, with the Dutchman leaving centre-back partner Wesley Hoedt exposed.

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