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Oh you’ve been missed and how - Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip

He's a centre-half, He's a number four, he's Virgil van Dijk. He is partnered by our very own Joel Matip and together they make one of the most formidable center back pairing in the Premier League.

I know we are just three game weeks into the season. However, the fact that the club have conceded just one goal in three games and look assured in defence makes me smile. Gone are the days our defence looked as shaky as a glucose biscuit dipped in hot milk.

Virgil van Dijk

Virgil had one of the most mentally taxing seasons ever. His injury caused loads of problems, not only to him but even the team and the way they played. 

The VVD song reverberates through Anfield whenever Virgil takes the field. He is arguably the best defender in the Premier League, if not in the world. His towering presence brings calm to the Liverpool fans and players alike.

His defensive partner, Matip is also a one of a kind player. More often than not he is over shadowed by the presence and attention van Dijk gets. But that does not phase him, together they are a very strong pairing.

Joel Matip

We know that football is a team sport. However, each team has an integral set of players due to which they play the way they do. Virgil and Matip are integral to Liverpool’s style of play in both attack and defence.

One of the things that Liverpool was missing during the injury struck season of 2019/20 was the runs being made by Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. The defensive long balls ensure that the opposition back line was stretched. 

Last season, Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams were not too great passers of the ball. Now that van Dijk and Joel Matip are back, we can already see them making an impact on Liverpool’s attacking play.

Positional play

Fabinho will likely miss the Burnley game after the tragic death of his father.

So much to his game. The high line will allow Fabinho and Jordan Henderson to press and win more second balls as there less space between liens. Liverpool FC will go back to suffocating teams. Playing a high line and winning the ball in the middle also allows us to attack broken defenses.

Set piece threat

Virgil van Dijk Joe Gomez

With a towering height of over six feet, van Dijk and Matip are targets for almost all set-pieces. He has managed to score 14 goals in the Premier League, 10 of which have been for Liverpool.

Dribbles Through Midfield

Matip has time and again shown us his ability to run with the ball through midfield. This is something that is of great help as it allows create a little extra space for one of the attackers in the final third. 

This adds an attacking dimension which could help unlock teams that sit behind the ball and defend with 10 players.


Defensive Organisation

Van Dijk has the rare ability to make the players around him play better. He has great awareness of his surroundings and can sense an attacking threat better than most players.

Virgil van Dijk

Passing range

Van Dijk’s passing range completely transforms how Liverpool attack. He has the pin-point accuracy that a midfielder would boast about. 

The Dutch international has time and again swiftly converted a situation where we have the ball at the back into an attacking threat with either a diagonal to Mohamed Salah or a long ball to Sadio Mane.

Liverpool fans have to be great full that they are fully fit and hope it stays that way. I am one of the few who would not mind Jurgen Klopp rotating them in games where we are sure they are not needed. After all, they are impeccable at:

✅ Switching the play to the left/right wing

✅ Making 40+ yard passes down the wings

✅ Dribbling through midfield and possessing an attacking threat

✅ Free kick and corner targets

✅ Direct passes to fellow defenders in pressure situations

✅ When passes are inaccurate, it allows the team to press

We have four center backs. But if we can be honest, it was evident that Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams were missing a lot of the gameplay aspects mentioned above. That was one of the reasons that we saw a bunch of midfielders swoop in at center half. (I HOPE I NEVER SEE THAT HAPPEN AGAIN).

Good times ahead, fellow Reds!