This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Can anyone stop Liverpool this season?
That is likely to be the question the rest of the Premier League is asking as the Reds continue their match towards the title. Against Brighton on Saturday, they won their 13th match of the league campaign out of a possible 14, and they now lead the way by a huge eight points. Manchester City, the current champions, are even further adrift as they trail by 11 points.
For their victory against the Seagulls, they had Virgil van Dijk to thank. The Netherlands international was in supreme form once again, just like he has been for much of the last 18 months since joining the club from Southampton.
What stands out the most this time was his attacking threat, of course. Prior to this clash, the 28-year-old had scored just once this term, but he scored a brace against Graham Potter’s side to help his team to victory. Both goals were powerful headers, much as you would expect from the imposing centre-back.
It was just one facet of a magnificent display once again from the £75m signing. Defensively, he was as solid as a rock. No player from either side managed more than his five clearances, whilst he also contributed with one interception and one tackle. He proved to be an unmovable force for his opponents, who were unable to dribble past him even once. Not just that, he impressively won 100% of all the duels he took part in, and also won a game-high three fouls whilst also not giving a free-kick away himself.
On the ball, too, he was as comfortable as ever. He had a pass accuracy of 90%, the joint-most of any player from either side along with Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster, and he also landed five of the seven long balls he attempted.
All in all, it was another accomplished display from van Dijk, and it was no surprise to see him lead the way at the top of the SofaScore rankings for the match with a rating of 8.9. It was just the latest in a long list of quality performances, as his second-place in the Ballon d’Or rankings suggests.
Whilst Lionel Messi scored 51 goals in 50 matches last term, the defender can feel a gross misjustice was done. Van Dijk, of course, will not score many goals, but he was part of the best defence in the Premier League last season, and also played a huge role as the Reds won the Champions League.
Not only that, he captained his country to the final of the UEFA Nations League. He has had a wonderful year, and he was truly deserving of picking up the most prestigious individual award in the sport. This display was a microcosm of that.
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