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Phil Thompson reflects on Liverpool's start to 2018/19 and hails Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool players celebrate a goal against Southampton at Anfield
Liverpool players celebrate a goal against Southampton at Anfield

Phil Thompson provides his thoughts on Liverpool’s impressive start, including the nonchalant displays of Virgil Van Dijk that has helped to sure up their defence.

The Reds have started the season impressively, going into the latest international break level on points with Man City and Chelsea at the top of the table.

Jurgen Klopp’s side won their opening six matches before drawing their last two to Chelsea and Manchester City.

Thompson spoke to Sporting Life and reflected on his former club's recent string of tough matches, in all competitions, yet is positive they will ease up slightly.

“Liverpool have just come through a horrendous month of games," the Soccer Saturday pundit said.

"Spurs away, Chelsea away and Man City at home. PSG at home and Napoli away - second in the Italian league - followed that, so it was a very testing month and they came through it relatively well.

"The fixture list going to become more generous for them whereas for other teams it will become more difficult.”


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Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates his winner v PSG in the Champions League
Roberto Firmino netted late on to sink PSG

The main talking point last year was the Merseysiders’ defence, which attracted much scrutiny throughout the course of the season.

Thompson believes their last match against the Premier League champions was a telltale sign that it has since come on leaps and bounds.

“The defence has been better," the Liverpool legend continued.

"You saw that with the respect that Liverpool and Man City gave each other. The two defences were the focal point, only conceding three goals each in the Premier League. It is a testament to where Liverpool have come from. Instead of talking about defences they were talking about the attack of both sides before kick-off.”

This has a direct correlation with the recent signings Liverpool have made and the new-look backline, which partly contributed to their success in the Champions League last season.

“Alisson has been a massive success, Virgil Van Dijk has been unbelievable, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold with Andrew Robertson have all been terrific and we don’t fear as much in defence whereas we had that fear in the last couple of years.”

“I think Liverpool’s stand-out player has been Van Dijk. He has held everything together and you get what you pay for.

"Van Dijk was £75m, the goalkeeper was expensive also but has added solidity as well as the class of Van Dijk. James Milner also has been sensational, but it’ll be a shame if he is out with his hamstring that he picked up on Sunday.”

Virgil van Dijk in action against Manchester City
Van Dijk is the most expensive defender in the world

Thompson believes there is just one missing piece of the puzzle and it is coming from an unlikely source after their heroics in 2017/18.

“The midfield this year I think has been very good," he added.

"That’s really good for Liverpool too because when - and I say when which is going to be soon - the forwards start hitting the kind of form of last season, it looks even better for Liverpool."

By Billy Lumsden

Follow Sporting Life on social media - find us on Facebook here or tweet @SportingLife

Odds via Sky Bet and correct as of 2150 BST on 09/10/18

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Most Read Football

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages1

Paper Talk: Poaching Poch?

Wednesday's back pages of the UK daily newspapers concern one thing - just who will replace Jose Mourinho at Manchester United?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (centre) celebrates after Manchester United's UEFA Champions League success in 19992

Solskjaer named United interim

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as caretaker manager of Man United until the end of the season, replacing Jose Mourinho.

Our tips for the latest Carabao Cup games3

Wednesday's Carabao Cup preview

The Carabao Cup continues on Wednesday. With 7/2, 8/1 and 18/1 winners in recent days, Tom Carnduff takes a look at the betting.

Gary Neville, Gary Lineker, Rene Meulensteen and Patrice Evra have all had their say
4

Mourinho sacked: Pundits' reaction

World football has been reacting to Jose Mourinho's sacking from Manchester United - including former players and pundits.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Set for a Manchester United move?5

Solskjaer odds-on for United

Jose Mourinho's time as Manchester United manager has come to an end and we look at the main contenders to replace him at Old Trafford.

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