Klopp hails inspirational Van Dijk as City fall short
JURGEN KLOPP says he has come to expect nothing but the best from Virgil Van Dijk.
The Dutch defender scored both goals as Premier League leaders Liverpool increased their lead over champions Manchester City to 11 points with a nervy 2-1 win over Brighton on Saturday.
Van Dijk headed home twice from superb Trent AlexanderArnold crosses in the first half at Anfield, putting his side on course for a comfortable triumph.
The expected cruise to victory did not materialise, chiefly because goalkeeper Alisson Becker was sent off for handball outside the area in the latter stages. Lewis Dunk pulled one back with a crafty free-kick and the 10-man Reds were left hanging on with deputy goalkeeper Adrian needing to make a number of saves.
But after the relief of the final whistle, the plaudits went to Van Dijk for a typically commanding display, although manager Klopp was keen to share the praise.
Klopp said: “He scored two goals – that’s the story itself. He’s good, really good, outstandingly good – but he has to be [because] he’s a very talented boy. He just has to use that talent and it would be a shame if he doesn’t.
“So yes, he’s incredibly important but if Virgil played the last line alone it would be pretty difficult.”
Meanwhile, Manchester City centre-back John Stones is refusing to give up on his Premier League title dream despite seeing his side slip 11 points off the pace.
Stones will head into Tuesday night’s trip to Burnley still believing it is possible to overhaul Liverpool.
He said: “We need to look at our game and see what we did wrong. We need to be very open in how we approach the negative things and also the positive things we did today and see where we can improve.
“It’s such a short space of time between now and Tuesday, but it’s something we need to do and keep fighting to contest for the Premier League.
“That dream should remain and we still have to fight for everyone. I’m sure the fans and everyone involved in the club is doing the same. We can do it. It’s been done before, we need to be positive and keep believing in our team.”