Wycombe Wanderers forward and Liverpool fan Adebayo Akinfenwa has exclusively told Anfield Watch that the side is missing Virgil van Dijk’s presence at the back.
When asked about the impact losing van Dijk’s passing has had on Liverpool’s side, Akinfenwa pointed out that his threat from set-pieces has also been taken away from the team. He also adds that van Dijk is one of the club’s most accurate passers and that his leadership has been sorely missed.
Speaking exclusively to Anfield Watch, Akinfenwa spoke about the effect van Dijk’s absence has had on the team. “The way van Dijk controls the game, back to front, front to back, I think it’s gonna hurt. Look, if you take one of the best players out of the team it’s gonna hurt anybody.
“I’d even talk about the set-pieces. How many times has van Dijk’s aerial ability got Liverpool goals? So, you take that element out of it and, yeah, it’s affecting (Liverpool). I think, at one stage, van Dijk’s stats were the most accurate passes.
“So, of course, it’s going to affect (Liverpool) going forward. It’s going to affect every aspect, you know, with his leadership, just with him being there, so it’s going to affect every aspect.”
ANFIELD WATCH VERDICT
Van Dijk has already missed 28 matches for Liverpool in all competitions and that number is set to increase considerably over the next few months as he continues to recover from the ACL injury. This means that Liverpool could have to go through the rest of the season without him in the side, which affects all aspects of their play, as Akinfenwa claims.
In terms of his passing numbers, as Akinfenwa mentioned he was one of the best passers at the club, van Dijk was second only to Gini Wijnaldum last season in pass completion. The defender finished the 2019/20 Premier League campaign with 89.1% accuracy with his passing, behind Wijnaldum’s 90.8%. This shows the level of passing Liverpool are missing with him out on the sidelines, which could, in turn, affect how they move the ball from back to front to start attacks.
An important point Akinfenwa also brings up is van Dijk’s ability from set-pieces. The Dutch international has scored 10 Premier League goals for Liverpool since the start of the 2018/19 campaign, showing just how dominant he can be in both boxes. Joel Matip is the only Liverpool centre-back who has managed to get on the scoresheet in the league this season, with Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams not providing much of a threat in that regard.
See more of our interview with Adebayo below.
"Look, if you take one of the best players out of the team it’s gonna hurt anybody." 🔴 pic.twitter.com/i9dozXiHQ6
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) February 19, 2021
I’m a 22-year-old football writer from Lowestoft. I produce, edit, and publish articles for Anfield Watch full-time.