Virgil van Dijk has looked shaky at the back for Liverpool since the start of the season in a big worry for Jurgen Klopp, Matthew Upson believes.
The Dutchman has, like most of his Reds team-mates, struggled to settle into the new campaign. After coming so close to a quadruple last season, Liverpool have only gained two points from three Premier League games.
That is their worst start to a season since Jurgen Klopp arrived. What’s more, they have conceded five goals in that spell and have gone behind first in each of their past seven league matches.
Liverpool‘s midfield has come in for fierce criticism, as has their defending.
And Netherlands captain Van Dijk has not escaped the spotlight, especially not after Monday’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United. During the match, James Milner offered the centre-back some harsh home truths about his display.
According to former England defender Matthew Upson, Van Dijk is not himself this term.
“Well I think you’re talking about a very accomplished centre back, who’s got an amazing reputation, ticks a lot of boxes, but he is a big guy,” Upson told Sky Sports.
“Liverpool aren’t quite firing on all cylinders at the moment and it’s going to leave you a little bit more exposed than what you would usually expect.
“You’re seeing that in certain moments that he’s finding himself in at the moment.”
Van Dijk criticised at Liverpool
Upson said that Van Dijk – a “master of 1v1 situations” – is now “throwing himself in the way of balls” and making “last-ditch tackles”.
The pundit added: “He’s not that type of defender, but he’s finding himself in situations at the moment where that’s actually now required.
“Liverpool aren’t in control of games as much as they like so those situations where he’s got to go out and affect the ball, he’s not really reacting in that way and looks quite poor at times.”
Liverpool hope to react as a unit on Saturday when Bournemouth travel to Anfield in the Premier League.
Reds must hit reset button
Liverpool have clearly not been themselves this season, but a solid performance against Bournemouth can help them reset.
The Reds have already struggled against newly-promoted teams this term. Klopp’s men drew at Fulham on the opening day, so will be equally wary of the Cherries.
Van Dijk and Liverpool need to treat Bournemouth with the same respect as Manchester City and Arsenal. Their rivals recently claimed 4-0 and 3-0 wins over Scott Parker’s men.
Van Dijk would love a first clean sheet of the season and will hope to get it against Bournemouth.
As for the team, a first win of the campaign can help them to finally build momentum going forwards.