Soccer

Van Dijk: Everyone wants to beat Liverpool even more, it’s a big challenge

The Dutch defender is raring to go ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, with Jurgen Klopp’s side looking to defend their Premier League title

Virgil van Dijk admits Liverpool have a “big challenge” to come in 2020-21 as Premier League rivals will be even more determined to beat them now that they are defending champions.

A 30-year wait for English top-flight glory came to a close at Anfield last season.

Having previously guided the club to Champions League and Club World Cup glory, Jurgen Klopp delivered the most sought-after of prizes on Merseyside.

Records were sent tumbling in the process, as Liverpool dominated a domestic scene, and the challenge now is to maintain those standards.

Van Dijk concedes that will not be easy, especially as the title holders are now there to be shot at.

The commanding Dutch centre-half told a Q&A session with AXA of the need to find stability: “I think we have to see it as a big challenge.

“It is a new challenge for all of us. We are going to be in a position where everyone wants to beat us more than they did this year.

“We are going to be under a little bit more pressure but we should enjoy that.”

Liverpool will return to action with fans still being forced to stay away amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says it has been tough to keep motivation levels high with no crowd to roar the Reds on, with the England international stating: “To find the levels you are used to performing at is strange and difficult without fans being there.

“You can be dominating a team for 70 minutes without really feeling like you’ve got them.

“Usually the crowd gives you that sort of sense and gives the opposition that sense that they’re in trouble.”

Liverpool are having to get used to a new sporting environment, with there plenty of players in their ranks who are still learning their trade.

Curtis Jones, as a 19-year-old academy graduate fits into that category, but he has caught the eye alongside the likes of Neco Williams and Harvey Elliott and is thoroughly enjoying his taste of senior football.

The talented teenager said of his experiences to date: “For me it’s been basically a platform this season that will set me up for another one.

“I’m finishing on a high, I’ve been around a big team all season so I would like to keep it going as long as I could.”


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