How one man has changed Liverpool’s defence for the better

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool looks on during the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on February 11, 2018 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool looks on during the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on February 11, 2018 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) /
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This is the story of how Virgil van Dijk has changed the Liverpool defence for the better.

Before the arrival of the towering Dutchman, the worst thing about the Reds was probably their defence. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren looked rudderless at times, while Ragnar Klavan is probably a bit over the hill to be effective every week.

Before the arrival of the former Southampton man, it looked like manager Jurgen Klopp had inherited all of Brendan Rodgers’ problems and still hadn’t worked out how the fix them.

But then January came around and Van Dijk finally signed on the dotted line to bring a protracted transfer saga to an earth-shattering end. And since the arrival of the colossus, things have started to get a lot better.

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According to research done by the Al Under Pressure podcast, there has been a massive reduction in defensive key metrics since he joined Liverpool and we should all be thankful for it.

Van Dijk has now played 10 games for the Reds and out of those fixtures, they’ve won seven, drawn one and lost two. There have only been 10 goals conceded with just six in seven league fixtures.

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The 26-year-old has the best aerial duel win rate in the competition with 76% and has helped the back four oversee between 20% – 50% reduction in a few other key areas.

For example, there has been a massive 50% less non-penalty goals conceded since Van Dijk arrived at the club. There has been 20% shots conceded during gameweeks 24-31, with 27% less headers conceded and a huge 43% less non-penalty big chances conceded.

What this list proves is the value of remaining patient as a club in order to secure the signing of a major target. Liverpool could have panicked when the Saints refused to let their star man leave in the summer and they were certainly criticised for not strengthening further.

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But gladly this has proven to be a win for those who don’t let knee jerk reactions rule the roost and the team is much stronger for it. Long may it continue.