Garth Crooks claims 31-year-old Liverpool player was actually panicking during the first-half on Sunday
Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Garth Crooks claims 31-year-old Liverpool player was actually panicking during the first-half on Sunday

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was panicking whenever Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus got on the ball on Sunday.

Van Dijk didn’t cover himself in glory at Anfield this weekend. All over the place for the Gunners first goal, he then left Jesus completely free in the box for their second.

And writing in his Team of the Week for BBC Sport, pundit Garth Crooks says the Arsenal forward ‘exposed’ Liverpool’s No.4.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

“I saw Virgil van Dijk actually panic in the first half at the sight of Jesus gathering the ball at his feet, about to run the Liverpool centre-back down the line,” said the pundit.

“When a top-class striker knows he’s got you on the run, it’s only a matter of time before that defender is exposed and that is precisely what happened to Van Dijk. Jesus’ header and Arsenal’s second goal proved exactly that point.”

Virgil showing signs of life

Van Dijk wasn’t brilliant on Sunday, but to say Jesus exposed him seems a little extreme. The Dutchman could certainly have done better on both goals, but his teammates were also culpable on both occasions.

For the remainder of the game, Jesus didn’t exactly run him ragged. In the second-half Van Dijk was barely even troubled at all.

Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

Admittedly, that may have been in some part down to the excellence of his defensive partner. Truly, Ibrahima Konate was sensational against Arsenal. He put a stop to just about everything Arsenal threw at Liverpool.

But one man doesn’t make up a defence on his own. Van Dijk also played his part in the Reds keeping a second-half clean sheet.

If Liverpool are to get back to their best next season, they’re going to need both Konate and Van Dijk. When he’s played, Ibou has been brilliant for the most part this campaign. Should Virgil match his level in 23/24, it’ll be a better year, no doubt.

All defenders struggle sometimes, but it feels a little harsh for Crooks to pick-up on Van Dijk when up against a forward playing with such confidence. We all know the big man can be better, but the second-half on Sunday was a good, if small step in the right direction.

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