‘No point’ Liverpool fixating on Man City chase, Virgil Van Dijk claims

The Reds are nine points behind the Premier League leaders, who have played one game more

George Sessions
Monday 24 January 2022 10:00
Comments
Virgil van Dijk celebrates Liverpool’s opener at Crystal Palace (Adam Davy/PA)
Virgil van Dijk celebrates Liverpool’s opener at Crystal Palace (Adam Davy/PA)

Virgil van Dijk insists Liverpool are paying no attention to Manchester City despite closing the gap on their Premier League title rivals.

A hard-fought 3-1 win at Crystal Palace on Sunday lifted the Reds to within nine points of Pep Guardiola’s side, who were held to a 1-1 draw away to Southampton on Saturday.

City have played a game more than Liverpool and the Merseyside outfit are set to visit the Etihad Stadium in April, leaving plenty to play for.

“You can’t deny it’s in your mind, but as we have said many times we take it game by game,” Van Dijk said when quizzed on the title.

“It sounds a bit boring, but it is like that. We are not looking at them because there is no point.

“There are so many games to play. We focus on ourselves. This was a very important one and hopefully we can build on it after the break.”

A second victory in London in the space of a few days, following Thursday’s success over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, ensured Liverpool made it four wins out of five in the absence of key attacking duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Van Dijk stepped up from a goal-scoring point of view in the capital with the opener against Palace before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute.

Odsonne Edouard pulled one back for the Eagles at the start of the second half, but a late penalty dispatched by Fabinho wrapped up the points for Jurgen Klopp’s men, with the league now taking a two-and-a-half week break before it resumes on 8 February.

Centre-back Van Dijk told Sky Sports: “It was tough. Down to us more or less. In the second half we didn’t win the right battles.

“We gave them a good feeling towards the end of the first half. In the end it was three points away from home. We knew it would be tough and it showed.”

There are so many games to play. We focus on ourselves. This was a very important one and hopefully we can build on it after the break

Liverpool centre-back Virgil Van Dijk

Palace were unable to handle Liverpool’s relentless pressing during the opening half-an-hour but clicked into gear after Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal.

Jean-Philippe Mateta, who unselfishly set up Edouard for a tap-in, credited a tactical tweak by manager Patrick Vieira for the Eagles’ upturn in fortunes.

“The first half, in the first 30 minutes, I was alone,” he said. “After we put Edouard behind me and that’s why the second half was much better.

“I wanted to score but the best solution for me is to give it to Edouard and for him to finish.”

Mateta made only his fifth start of the season, but three have come in the last month during which time he has also found the net on two occasions.

The Frenchman had been expected to depart Selhurst Park in January but now looks set to continue his loan from Mainz for the remainder of the campaign.

He told the club website: “Before I didn’t play and now I’m playing and improving every day in training, on the pitch at the weekend and that’s good for me.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in