Virgil van Dijk admits that Liverpool’s disappointingly inconsistent season has made the players realize the privileged position they have occupied for the last few years. With wildly indifferent results, such as beating Manchester United 7-0 and Bournemouth 9-0, yet also losing to Bournemouth, Leeds, and Nottingham Forest, Jurgen Klopp’s side is facing an uphill task to qualify for the Champions League. Winning the Champions League in 2019, and ending a 30-year wait for a domestic title the year before, are highlights of a sustained period of success since Klopp’s arrival in 2015. Van Dijk acknowledges that the current campaign’s tougher times have been eye-opening, saying that they are “very privileged” and “blessed” to be performing for one of the biggest clubs in the world. The chaotic 3-2 win at home to Forest has added momentum to their quest to sneak into the top four, and Van Dijk believes they need to find the joy in their football again.
The win over Forest made it back-to-back wins in a week after two successive draws, and Mohamed Salah’s 183rd goal for the club moved him level with Robbie Fowler in joint-sixth on the club’s all-time goalscorers list. Salah’s goals have come in 71 fewer matches despite not being classed as an out-and-out striker, and Van Dijk believes his team-mate has already cemented his place as one of Liverpool’s all-time greats.
The result dropped Forest to second-bottom in the table, and for the visit of high-flying Brighton on Wednesday they are likely to be without Scott McKenna who was forced off with a suspected collarbone injury. They are now winless in 11 matches and have conceded two or more goals in nine of those games, and manager Steve Cooper accepts that a particular flaw at set-pieces has to be addressed after all three Liverpool goals came from that route. He hopes that the frustration and disappointment of conceding set-pieces can be used as motivation for Wednesday.