Liverpool captain Virgil Van Dijk has said the key to winning the title will be consistency

Let’s get on a roll, Virgil van Dijk tells his Liverpool team-mates as the Reds skipper insists consistency is key to Jurgen Klopp’s side mounting another title bid

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Liverpool fans had long known about the excellence of their side, but it was on this week in 2019 that the rest of the footballing world stood up and took note. After being crowned champions of the world on December 21 in Qatar, they faced a tricky test at Leicester.

With the team jaded after their Middle East excursion, this trip to Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes, second in the table at the time, was talked up as a potential turning point in the title race. By the end of the night, though, it was clear that forecasts of a title ‘race’ could be dashed.

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Jurgen Klopp’s men won 4-0, one of their most complete performances of the season, and made their closest challengers look like cannon fodder. This was not to be a protracted battle for Premier League supremacy, but more a procession to the trophy for Liverpool.

Aside from the statement made on the pitch, the table made for grim readings for the likes of Rodgers and Pep Guardiola, with Liverpool 13 points clear after Boxing Day. Their first ever Premier League crowd slowly dwindled into a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

It wasn’t until late July that they finally lifted the trophy, due to the small matter of a global pandemic that shutdown sport, but it was undoubtedly the festive period that the rest of England started to realise that, for the first time since 1990, it was destined to be Liverpool’s year.

Liverpool captain Virgil Van Dijk has said the key to winning the title will be consistency

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Liverpool captain Virgil Van Dijk has said the key to winning the title will be consistency

The footballing world stood up and took note of Liverpool's quality when they thrashed Leicester in December 2019

The footballing world stood up and took note of Liverpool’s quality when they thrashed Leicester in December 2019 

That victory since the Reds 13 points clear at the top and they eventually lifted the title

That victory since the Reds 13 points clear at the top and they eventually lifted the title  

That night in Leicester does not jump out from the page when perusing results that season – it was the ninth win of an 18-match streak between October and February – but in terms of the performance, it was one that sent shockwaves around the country. This team was serious.

Liverpool are back on their Boxing Day travels today, with a short trip to Burnley, and though they have shown moments of brilliance, Klopp’s side are still looking for that statement display. Going into 2024, many are still unsure whether they are title race pretenders or contenders.

The Reds have lost just once – an utter farce and VAR shambles at Tottenham – but have been left to rue big chances in three draws in their last six against fellow Big Six sides Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal. They have also fallen 1-0 down in nine of 18 games.

Looking at both of those previous points with a glass half full, Klopp’s men are hard to beat and building solid foundations, while they have come back to win five and draw three of those nine matches in which they had fallen behind, showing the fighting mentality of champions.

Today, many are still unsure whether they are title race pretenders or contenders

Today, many are still unsure whether they are title race pretenders or contenders 

But going into the New Year, there are clearly problems to be solved if Liverpool are to go on and win the league. Four draws and a defeat in games against the Big Six must be improved, while these sloppy starts to games will be punished if they are not eradicated.

Captain Virgil Van Dijk says the key to winning the title will be consistency. The Dutchman said: ‘Consistency is the most difficult thing in football. We are in December, there are still so many games to play. We have to keep going and keep the consistency that brings us success.

‘In February or March, we can see who is pushing on for the title. Now we have to make sure we stay above, in the higher part of the rankings. And with consistency, we have the quality to do that. At the moment it’s going fine and we have to try to keep winning.’

It would be unfair to lay any criticism at Liverpool’s door without noting their injury crisis, with Kostas Tsimikas the latest on the treatment table with a suspected broken collarbone. The club were to make a late call on the fitness of Diogo Jota ahead of Burnley. Luis Diaz should be OK.

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Alexis Mac Allister has missed nearly three weeks with an impact injury suffered after a nasty tackle at Sheffield United but should return in the next week, while Joe Gomez will be needed to deputise at left-back with Andy Robertson also not likely to return until late January.

That means Liverpool only have three centre-halves to choose from, but Van Dijk has been very complimentary about Ibrahima Konate, who put perhaps his best performance of the season on Saturday against Arsenal. ‘He’s still growing. He’s an outstanding defender,’ said the captain.

‘He has everything that a modern day footballer needs to be at the absolute top of centre backs. I speak a lot with him about certain things because it’s my duty to share experiences with him. He’s still learning and he can be even better than he is. Same goes with Jarell (Quansah).’



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