This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Tammy Abraham has revealed that Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is one of the hardest opponents he has played against, admitting he struggled against the 28-year-old.
The Chelsea youngster is inexperienced at the top-level, and as a result he hasn’t often come up against defenders of the highest quality like van Dijk, who was named the UEFA Men’s European Player of the Year recently.
Despite his youth, Abraham has been in top form this season with eight goals in eight league games, thus proving that he has been a handful for most Premier League centre-backs.
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He has now played against the Netherlands captain twice this campaign, and on both occasions got no joy against him, having failed to find the target in the Super Cup and in the league.
As a result, he knows all too well what it is like to play against the defender, and described his experience, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo:
“He’s a beast. He’s just good at what he does. He’s experienced. I try to do a little… I try to use my tricks in my head but his understanding of the game is top drawer.
“It is to do with little things. Movement. My movement in the box, some defenders don’t pay attention to me – they are only focused on the ball.
“With him, it’s kind of both, he’s paying attention to me and the ball, knows where I am, knows where I want to go, follows me.”
Van Dijk’s exceptional defensive attributes are no secret, but the fact he has kept one of the league’s most in-form strikers quiet with apparent ease shows the level he’s at.
Abraham’s words show an almost defeatist attitude, and indicate that half the battle for strikers is the struggle to believe that they can get the better of the Liverpool man – that is how good he is.
To make matters worse for strikers, he is often thinking one step ahead, and often doesn’t need to exert himself in order to prevent danger – the manner in which he closed down Son Heung-min’s run in the second half of the Champions League final a great example of that, and that occurred on the highest stage.
His commanding presence is a nightmare for opponents but equally it must be a great source of reassurance for his teammates, so it is not surprising that Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren have also improved of late.