In a team as dominant as Liverpool, there will be an inevitable tendency to overlook such brilliance when it is made to look so ordinary on a weekly basis.
That is the standards that Jurgen Klopp’s team uphold following their 26th league victory of the season. The Reds are making the unsustainable look common and are marching into unprecedented territory with their first league title in 30 years just four league victories away.
Liverpool have claimed a ridiculous 109 points from a possible 111 since March and the club have also extended their winning run to 44 league matches – just five shy of Arsenal’s all-time English record in 2004.
One player who typifies Liverpool’s outrageous consistency better than anyone and has become the standard-bearer for all to aspire to is none other than Virgil van Dijk. In a team that is littered in world-class talent, the big Dutchman still remains a cut above the rest.
Every week, no matter who the opposition, the UEFA Player of the Year delivers an eight or 9/10 performance. Quite surprisingly, following on from a season that saw the Netherlands captain dominate the domestic individual awards at a canter, there has been no discernible spike in Van Dijk’s Premier League statistics this season as well.
According to stats provided from The Times, Van Dijk is making one pass every minute just as he was in 2018-19, his passing accuracy is more or less still levels above everyone else in the league: 89 per cent now compared 90 per cent last season.
Despite making fewer tackles a game, the Ballon d’Or runner-up has more interceptions, and his aerial duel success is the same 75 per cent. He has already matched last season’s league goal tally of four with 11 matches still to play in the PL.
The 28-year-old’s normalised brilliance sadly will most likely be Van Dijk’s downfall when it comes to retaining the individual awards this season. His ability to showcase such extraordinary consistency makes it less memorable for supporters and players when recognising excellence because it has become the norm for the defender.
Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane have rightly been tipped as serious candidates for the individual prizes following arguably each individual’s finest season to date in a Liverpool shirt. However, if you ask yourself have any of them been levels above Van Dijk this season it would difficult to convince yourself yes.
This will likely see Van Dijk miss out on the PFA Player of the Year this time around as it’s difficult to notice perfection when it has become normalised. Before last night, Liverpool had conceded just one league goal in 11 matches – Van Dijk alongside Gomez, have developed the most devestating central defensive partnership in Europe.
Luckily for Van Dijk, a first Premier League title will surely soften the blow of missing out on the individual honours for 2020.