Virgil van Dijk outlined how Liverpool will thwart Erling Haaland when Liverpool host Man City on Sunday, while Harvey Elliott named who he thinks is the best in the world.
Haaland has been near-unstoppable since joining Man City from Borussia Dortmund last summer. The Norwegian marksman, 22, has notched an incredible 20 goals in his first 13 matches for Pep Guardiola’s side.
He’s failed to score in just two appearances for Man City this season. The first was against Liverpool in the Community Shield when Haaland missed a late sitter.
The second strangely enough came in the 4-0 win against Bournemouth, though he did provide an assist.
All eyes will be on Haaland in particular this weekend when City travel to Anfield. The fixture has often been billed as a title decider in recent years, though is equally as important for other reasons this time around.
Man City remain in the hunt for the league lead as ever. However, Liverpool’s stuttering start has them six points off the top four already. Defeat against City would give them a mountain to climb just to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Stopping Haaland will be imperative and Van Dijk was recently quizzed about the striker by Norwegian broadcaster TV2.
Insisting the noise around Haaland’s Community Shield miss was nonsense, the Dutchman said: “I remember that so many wrote him off after the Community Shield match.
“Then I said that that guy is going to create a nightmare for so many defenders.”
He continued: “He has shown a stable level, and City is a team that creates goal chances.
“It will definitely not be easy. He has been on fire. There is nothing else to say.”
Van Dijk did have more to say, however, and gave insight as to how he’ll go about halting the Norwegian’s charge.
Liverpool must press like the old days
He suggested preventing the delivery will be the first port of call, meaning Liverpool’s press that has shown signs of slowing down this season will need to be at full throttle.
City have creative players all across the park. However, one player in particular has quickly established a telepathic relationship with Haaland – Kevin de Bruyne.
Keeping the Belgian maestro under wraps would go some way to nullifying Haaland.
Furthermore, Van Dijk stressed the idea of one-v-one player duels is more of a construct in the media. In his mind at least, the collective will have as much of a say in stopping Haaland as he will by himself.
“We must try to prevent the ball from reaching him, and we must defend ourselves at the highest level,” said Van Dijk. “We always have to be at our best against City. It’s not me against him. It’s us against them.
“That is the approach we have to matches. It is the outside world that creates these duels between single players. We want to stop them regardless of who is on the pitch.”
Is Haaland the best in the world?
When asked if Haaland is the best in the world right now, Van Dijk opted against answering the question directly.
“Wow! He scores goals for fun and that is very important if you want to win games,” added Van Dijk.
“He is a very good goalscorer, but hopefully we can stop him on Sunday.”
Harvey Elliott also spoke to TV2 and weighed in on whether Haaland is indeed the best in the world right now.
When asked that question, the 19-year-old said: “I think he is (best in the world). His goal stats are absolutely outstanding.
“He fits perfectly into the team and is a player we must pay attention to. We have to try to stop him, but we also have to stop the supply lines.
“He is indescribable. There, Manchester City has yet another world-class player.”