Liverpool could yet be without Virgil van Dijk for the remainder of this season, but in the meantime, they need to collectively rediscover a crucial element of the Dutchman’s game.
‘He’s calm as you like’, the Kop would sing with regularity before the pandemic prevented them from doing so, and that statement could not be more true.
And that comes into play not least when opponents set up to frustrate and sit deep rather than show any ambition to attack – the exact type of performance that Liverpool have struggled with of late.
The incident at half-time between Jurgen Klopp and Sean Dyche that stemmed from a disagreement between Fabinho and Ashley Barnes summed up the mounting frustrations that Liverpool’s players and coaching staff were feeling.
But the question can be posed as to whether or not with Van Dijk on the field, something like that would have been allowed to happen.
“Van Dijk is maybe underrated in that regard,” said David Lynch on the Blood Red podcast.
“He is a real captain without the armband and I think it would have been interesting to see how Jordan Henderson would have dealt with that situation.
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“Would he have allowed his teammates to get that frustrated?
“They were wound up by a Burnley side using the exact same tactics that you expect of Burnley – it’s nothing to get wound up about, that is just how they play.
“Liverpool should not have been surprised and they allowed themselves to get frustrated by it, so they missed that leadership.”
On the ball as well, Van Dijk’s passing ability from the back has been discussed plenty of times as a vital ingredient the Reds are currently lacking.
“They have sorely missed his passing from deep,” added Lynch.
“The way he faints to play the ball to one side and then he plays to the other gets Liverpool’s full-backs up the pitch and that is something they are really missing.”
That is almost impossible to recreate, but the coolness and calmness that Van Dijk offers should not be. The sooner his teammates rediscover that trait, the sooner their difficult patch will be over.