Liverpool: Van Dijk was the real villain

Liverpool have suffered a disappointing defeat at the Vitality Stadium in their Premier League clash with Bournemouth this afternoon and Jurgen Klopp will surely be extremely frustrated with the poor performance put in by his team.

The Reds could have gone into the outing on a high after their monumental 7-0 victory over bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield less than a week ago, however, it wasn’t to be for the side on the road in the early kick-off.

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Despite having far greater possession (69%), more shots on goal (15 v 5), more shots on target (6 v 2), more big chances created (4 v 2), and more accurate passes completed (522 v 175), Liverpool just couldn’t take their opportunities when it mattered most which is something that has become a regular occurrence for the side this season.

In the first half, the Reds looked comfortable and in control of the game for the majority of the opening minutes but it wasn’t long before their poor defensive transition caught up with them as Philip Billing found the back of the net in the 28th minute, giving the home side the lead ahead of the half time whistle being blown.

In the second half, the Merseysiders continued their lethargic and uninspiring display throughout, although were given the golden opportunity to equalise when the Cherries’ Adam Smith gave away a penalty following a handball inside the box.

The usually dependable and inevitable Egyptian goal machine Mohammed Salah stepped up to convert the one-on-one opportunity with the keeper but instead completely missed the target as the ball shot into the stands, causing no concern for Neto.

Indeed, the shocking misfire will surely haunt Liverpool’s fan-favourite forward for a while, as the ball went some way wide of the post, however, when the final whistle was blown to confirm the defeat it was clear the real villain for the Reds was Virgil van Dijk.

How did Virgil van Dijk perform vs Bournemouth?

It is no secret that Liverpool’s defence has had many humiliating moments over the campaign so far, however, the performance in the back-line this afternoon will be one that Van Dijk will be hoping to forget quickly.

Over the Dutch dud’s 90-minute performance, he missed two big chances, was dribbled past once, and committed two fouls, alongside a controversial challenge on Dominic Solanke that could’ve cost the player his place on the pitch in different circumstances.

He also allowed Dango Ouattara to burst past him with ease in the build-up to Billing’s goal, almost giving up on his attempts to stop the winger from putting a cross in.

Van Dijk’s poor self-awareness and constant blunders throughout the clash led to a scathing review from popular Liverpool journalist DaveOCKOP who tweeted:

“Van Dijk off it today. Too nonchalant. More frustrating that he is looking elsewhere after his errors rather than to himself.”

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Surprisingly, it is only the second game that Liverpool have lost when Van Dijk has been joined by Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ibrahima Konate in the starting back four according to OptaJoe, which only elevates how huge an opportunity has been missed to take all three points.

With that being said, it is displays like today that have left huge doubt surrounding Liverpool’s chances to break into and finish inside the top four over the remainder of their campaign and van Dijk is one of the key players who will need to thoroughly reflect on his showing this afternoon.

His woeful defending, for the Bournemouth goal and in general, cost Klopp’s side on the day and set the tone for the rest of the team’s performance, which is why he was the real villain of the match.