MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

Jamie Carragher names “biggest factor” in Liverpool’s turnaround – 1 in 89

Liverpool are 16 points better off than they were at this stage last season, and Jamie Carragher named the biggest factor in the turnaround.

Liverpool have bought four midfielders, seen a renaissance in Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s form and have switched systems.

However, none of these have been the biggest reason for Liverpool renewed form, according to Jamie Carragher. Instead, the Liverpool legend picked Virgil van Dijk out as being the “biggest contributing factor” to the upturn in results.

The Reds have the best defensive record in the Premier League this season, conceding 18 goals – that’s two less than any other team. Van Dijk has played in every league game so far, except the two when he was suspended.

Carragher, a former centre-back himself, said on Sky Sports: “There has been a lot made about the midfield and rightly so.

“The six transfers Liverpool were involved in over the summer were all about midfield, but Liverpool have got Virgil van Dijk back to his best.”

The Dutchman is widely considered the best defender of his generation, but the 2022/23 campaign saw a dip in form.

Carragher pointed out how damaging his poor performances had been to the Reds’ season, showing his phenomenal impact in every other campaign since joining.

“When Van Dijk’s out with the ACL (in 2020/21), when he plays five games, look how many goals Liverpool concede – 42,” Carragher said.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 1, 2024: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC on New Year's Day at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-2. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That campaign, Liverpool only managed 69 points in total. In the next campaign, with him back, the Reds almost won the quadruple. However, the 2022/23 season “is the outlier,” explained the pundit.

“In that last season, he played 32 games but goals conceded – 47. Points they got – 67. That was the only bad season Virgil van Dijk has had at Liverpool.”

The captain’s importance is of paramount importance to the team. He has lost just one of his 89 Premier League games played at Anfield since arriving in 2018. This season, he is yet to be dribbled past in the league.

Carragher summed up, saying: “He can take on any striker physically, winning headers, strength-wise, pace-wise, and that’s back.”

That’s why he’s the best.