Liverpool player says he once 'wasn't great', tonight he could torment Manchester United - TBR View
Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield on Tuesday night hoping to return to the Premier League summit.
The Reds have been nigh-on unstoppable this season and are still on course for an unprecedented quadruple.
Liverpool won the Carabao Cup, are one point off the top of the league table, and are in the final of the FA Cup and the Champions League semi-finals.
Manchester United, a dominant force in football not long ago, now look like a shadow of their former selves.
The Red Devils famously won the treble in 1999 and also knocked Liverpool off their perch in terms of top-flight titles.
However, United’s last title (their 20th) came in 2013, while the Reds ended their 30-year title drought in 2020 (their 19th).
Also, Liverpool’s last two games against the Red Devils were resounding victories.
Jurgen Klopp’s charges ran out 4-2 winners in May last year, and in October 2021, they thrashed United 5-0 at Old Trafford.
“Going to be intense”
Last season proved a blip for Liverpool amid numerous key players missing at various points of the season.
The Reds particularly missed Virgil van Dijk, who suffered a long-term knee injury and was out for most of the campaign.
This season, Liverpool’s return to form shows just how much they missed the big Dutchman.
Ahead of the game, Van Dijk revealed how last season’s layoff has made him even more grateful for his top-level career.
He also gave an honest assessment of his formative years.
“I was not a great player back in the days,” Van Dijk told the Liverpool Echo.
“I was quite a late bloomer, that’s why I enjoy my career even more. Every day I take it as it is. Enjoy it.
“For me, coming back from the injury as well, having seen everything from the sideline last year, to be in all competitions still is something I won’t take for granted.
“I’ve played almost over 50 games this season so that is something I won’t take for granted. I just want to keep it going, stay fit, win games and see what it brings and get ready for the World Cup as well.”
Van Dijk also looked ahead to Liverpool’s big league meeting with Manchester United at Anfield on Tuesday.
“The game on Tuesday is going to be intense against our rivals,” he said.
“We need the fans as well to be here with us, just enjoy it and we will give it everything.
“That’s what we can promise until the end of the season and whatever happens we will see.”
“Almost scared him”
Van Dijk always looked a cut above at Celtic and then at Southampton, cue his big-money move to Liverpool.
He has got better and better and continues to be head and shoulders above most of his peers in the league.
During October’s game, Gary Neville said on Sky Sports – as transcribed by This is Anfield – that Marcus Rashford “saw Van Dijk and didn’t want it, he [Van Dijk] almost scared him.”
On Tuesday, a player who by his own admission “wasn’t great” could write himself even further up in Anfield history.