Ex-Crystal Palace defender Damian Delaney has questioned Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk’s performances this season, claiming that the Dutchman’s game-reading ability has taken a hit.Liverpool have struggled to find their footing in the 2022-23 season, failing to hit the ground running in both the Premier League and the Champions League.
Having picked up only nine points from six matches, the Reds find themselves in seventh place in the Premier League standings. In Europe, they endured a 4-1 drubbing at Napoli in their Champions League opener last week, which saw them drop down to third place in their group.
Van Dijk, one of the key cogs in Jurgen Klopp’s system, has been considerably below his sky-high standards this season. Analyzing his displays, Delaney claimed that the center-back looked spent and was only reacting to situations instead of getting on top of them beforehand. The former Premier League defender told Off The Ball :
He definitely looks overcooked to me. He looks seriously, seriously tired. If you watch him play, then everything is reactionary. It’s happening and then he is reacting. And that’s not what he’s about.
“He’s not a blood and guts defender. He’s not a Vidic or a Martinez, who has come into Manchester United. This guy is a reader. Two steps ahead of everybody else. He goes in at half-time with a clean pair of shorts on.”
“I suppose, if your concentration levels drop off, even by a couple of percent, and you are a reader of the game and you are reacting, then I tell you if you are reacting at that level, then you are done and over. He looks spent.”
Van Dijk has featured in all eight of Liverpool’s matches this season across competitions, scoring once.
Liverpool could struggle to catch up to Manchester City in the Premier League
Having picked up 14 points from six games (4 wins, 2 draws), Manchester City find themselves in second place in the Premier League standings. Arsenal, with 15 points, are the current league leaders, but the reigning champions could find themselves on top if they manage to maintain their unbeaten Premier League run.
Liverpool kept City under the cosh until the full-time whistle of their final Premier League match of the 2021-22 season. This term, they could find it considerably harder to do so. They already find themselves five points behind them and the deficit would only increase if their key players do not hit top form sooner rather than later.