BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks had said that Liverpool defender Joel Matip must get Virgil van Dijk to get involved with the ‘heavy lifting’ away from home.
The Reds beat Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s on Saturday. The Cameroonian defender was nominated by Crooks for his Team of the Week.
His solid showing will have delighted boss Jurgen Klopp. It was a timely performance from the enforcer, who was left out of the starting eleven for the first league game against Norwich City.
Crooks praised Matip for his solid showing but added his Dutch partner must do more.
He told BBC Sport: “Whenever Joel Matip plays for Liverpool he appears to be the one who is making all the last-ditch tackles, getting the ball smashed in his face and coming to Liverpool’s aid in a crisis.
“Meanwhile Virgil van Dijk looks beautifully groomed, hair swept back in a ponytail, strolling around like he’s just returned from a week in Vegas! Matip must get van Dijk to do his share of the heavy lifting when the Reds are up against it away from home.
“I know Matip is the junior partner here but, come on, fair is fair.”
TBR Verdict – Matip and van Dijk are formidable together
People talk about Joe Gomez being the natural long-term central defensive partner for Virgil van Dijk, but Matip is so important.
The Cameroonian was sensational last season alongside the £180,000-a-week (Spotrac) enforcer and his efforts shouldn’t be undervalued.
In tandem, the duo work together brilliantly well and Gomez could be forced into a watching brief for a little while longer yet.
Crooks is probably a little bit harsh on van Dijk in saying he needs to do more.
Last season the Dutch defender was remarkable and Liverpool’s Champions League success was down in small part to the contribution of van Dijk.