Virgil van Dijk on Crystal Palace trip, believing and centre-back goals

InterviewVirgil van Dijk on Crystal Palace trip, believing and centre-back goals

Published 22nd January 2022
By Glenn Price

Virgil van Dijk insists Liverpool are determined to get their away form in the Premier League back on track, starting at Crystal Palace.

The Reds face their second trip to the capital this week on Sunday afternoon when they head to Selhurst Park to take on Patrick Vieira's side.  

Jürgen Klopp's men last won on the road in the league at Wolverhampton Wanderers at the start of December, leaving Van Dijk and his teammates extremely keen to bag three points at an opponent's home ground again. 

Read on for Liverpoolfc.com's pre-match interview with the No.4... 

It's been a bit of a tricky time away from home in the league in the last month or so. How eager are you to change that recent form when you go to Crystal Palace?

I think it started already in the last game we played [against Brentford]. Obviously it's not been an easy period for all of us, but the only thing we want to do and try to do is to win the game in front of us. The focus is on Crystal Palace and gaining three points heading into a small international break.

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What are you expecting from Palace, who, like us, are missing a few important players due to AFCON? And what will you need to do to pick up the three points?

It's always a tough place to go, in my opinion. It's never been easy, with the fans behind them, it's a small ground. It's intense and a tough place to go. I don't expect anything less than that on Sunday. Obviously we want to create momentum, we want to keep going, getting results because that's the most important thing at the end of the day. It's going to be a tough task but we should all be looking forward to it as well because it's another step hopefully closer to what we want to achieve.

Given the situation in the league table, you always take it game by game – but is that message reinforced even more now?

Of course. If you look above us, obviously Manchester City has been incredible, they're a fantastic team and they've been doing so well, so it's going to be a tough task for us to catch them. But the only thing we can do is focus on the game ahead of us, and there's no point in this phase of the season to look too much at others. We have full focus on ourselves and that's what we will do.

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Do you all collectively believe, like quite a lot of the fans, that this could still be a really successful season for you and the team?

Of course. If anyone wouldn't believe then they better stay home, in my opinion. There's so many points still to collect, there's so many games to play, there's so many cups that we're involved in. Anything can happen. We just give it a very good go with everything that we have. Also, there will be moments in games where we have a lot of difficulties – what is absolutely normal – and then we also need our support, and I'm not worried about that either.

When you're missing incredible goalscorers like Mo and Sadio, do even you as a centre-half feel a bit more responsibility to help with goals at the other end? You went close a few times against Brentford…

You have the responsibility even when they are on the pitch. Everyone has to contribute towards three points. In my case and the defenders' case, let's say the centre-backs' case, we are a big part of set-pieces and we have to try to do our best in that and score and contribute for the team. But we also have a responsibility to not concede goals. Every time we have [that responsibility], it doesn't matter who is on the pitch. I don't think you do anything different, in my opinion, than what you normally do. I think that responsibility is always there and always the case.

Can I ask what would be your reaction if Joel Matip scored on one of those mazy runs of his?

I'll probably be more happy than he probably would be! I've obviously told him many times that he should try. His dribbling is incredible, the braveness he has to do it and also to keep the ball as close as he can is incredible – that's a quality of his. If that goal happens, then I'll be very happy for him. I said to him already, if you believe in yourself, like I believe in him, then it could be going very well for him. 

Just how helpful are those runs for the team?

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If you look at the way we play, you need to mix things up. He's got a lot of qualities that I don't have, and the other way around – I've got a lot of qualities that he doesn't have. The way he steps in is very helpful when it's difficult to break teams down and give a different dimension on how to break teams down. Obviously sometimes it works and sometimes maybe not, but that's why you try to mix it up. We have a fantastic team full of quality, full of different assets that we can use to win games. It's very important to use that as well. 

All the centre-halves have been in fine form when they've come in this season…

I agree. It's a great competition to have, it's very good for the club and very good for everyone who's involved with Liverpool. Everyone is working hard to make sure that we are 100 per cent ready for the games. Obviously there are times when things could be better but we all give everything that we have and that's the most important thing. Quality is definitely here as well.

Published 22nd January 2022