Liverpool are showing no signs of nerves, says Virgil Van Dijk
Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk is always the calmest man on the pitch but he believes none of his team-mates have suffered from nerves in their charge towards a first league title in 30 years.
The requirement for the Reds to end their long wait for a domestic championship now stands at just four wins after they came from behind to beat West Ham 3-2 at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side may be cruising with a 22-point lead at the top of the table but they have still had to come through some challenges to their season-long unbeaten record recently.
They were 2-1 down to the Hammers with 22 minutes to go while they beat Norwich with a solitary 78th-minute goal and Van Dijk has praised the players’ mental fortitude.
“Not being nervous, that is the main thing,” was Van Dijk’s reason behind the success, having won 26 and drawn just one of their 27 Premier League matches.
“Keep going and keep playing and keep pressing. There will be moments when the opponent is going to have problems if we keep doing the same thing.
“They (West Ham) were a little bit better in the second half than the beginning, they played quite well but I think not being nervous is the main thing.”
West Ham’s opening goal by Issa Diop was the first conceded at Anfield in 11 hours and 27 minutes.
Liverpool’s defensive resilience has been one of the cornerstones on which their successful season has been built so when they do concede it often comes as a shock.
“We can’t keep clean sheets every night,” added Van Dijk. “The first (for West Ham) was a set-piece: we should look at it but they are good at set-pieces.
“The second goal I should maybe have got a bit tighter (to goalscorer Pablo Fornals) but at the end of the day it is about getting the result.
“We all want the clean sheet, we all want eight goals, that is what every footballer wants but in reality sometimes you have difficult nights.
“We had a difficult night but we kept our cool and that is the main thing.”
Since returning from their mid-season break Klopp’s side appear to have lacked some of the fluency they had previously, labouring to beat Norwich and West Ham by the odd goal and losing to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Spain.
However, Van Dijk insists the time off has not dulled their fire.
“I think we should take advantage of the break we had,” said the Dutchman. “Everyone had their time off, we all enjoyed it and we are all ready for the second part of the season.
“If you are looking for negatives then so be it but we want to win games, we know it is going to be tough every game.
“We will just keep going and stay positive and not get nervous. That is the main thing.”