Virgil van Dijk’s Return Coincides With Liverpool’s Emphatic Opening Day Victory

Virgil van Dijk’s return

Ah, football’s officially back; real football. Not the fake crowd noise celebrating a side-netted strike thanks to the accidental hit of a button. Real emotions have returned. The ole’s, the laughs, the anxiety-led screeches; the away-end limbs. And, for Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk’s return to coincide with football’s couldn’t have been better as they swept Norwich City aside.

For the first time since the end of the 19/20 season, this felt like Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Cool, composed, ruthless. And if it didn’t feel like Liverpool after all those traits were shown, James Milner picked up his weekly booking to confirm the Reds’ return. Over the years, we’ve learnt that three things are certain in life, and three things only. Death, taxes and a James Milner yellow card.

Many have doubted Liverpool this season, confining them to a position amongst the best of the rest in the Premier League, but doubt this side at your peril. It is worth remembering that, when fully fit, this side walked the Premier League, going 25 points clear at one stage. So, the question is, why can’t the same set of players, with Diogo Jota, Kostas Tsimikas and Ibrahima Konate added, repeat or, at the very least get close, to their achievement of 2020?

Virgil van Dijk’s Return Coincides With Liverpool’s Emphatic Opening Day Victory

Virgil van Dijk’s Return Predictably Transforms Liverpool

In perhaps the most obvious statement ever, Virgil van Dijk’s return absolutely transformed Liverpool. They looked a side going from a Volkswagen to a Rolls Royce because they were. No disrespect to the likes of Nat Phillips and Rhy Williams, but the composure Van Dijk brings is unmatched.

Such is he swagger, the Dutchman could probably calm down Michael Scott in a fire drill. And, like the famous character from ‘The Office’, Liverpool fans would have been screaming ‘it’s happening’ when they saw Van Dijk on the team sheet.

The one underrated aspect that he added was his passing range. Liverpool struggled to play out from the back last season, relying on a combination of Fabinho and a hopeful long pass to bail them out. With Van Dijk back, however, every pass was picked with precision out on the wings and possession was maintained. All of a sudden, in one pass, Salah was one on one inside the Norwich half. The fact is, the returning defender has a positive impact on every aspect of Liverpool’s game.

Tsimikas More Than Capable of Filling in

Fans would have had their doubts about Kostas Tsimikas’ ability to replace Andy Robertson, but those fears were quickly put to bed. The fullback showed he is more than capable of filling in, building a productive partnership with Sadio Mane and bombing forward in similar fashion to his injured Scottish counterpart.

Much to the relief of Liverpool fans, the days of seeing James Milner fill in at left-back are over. As loved as the veteran is, a right-footed 34-year-old is simply not the best option to have down the left-handed side. Tsimikas, by contrast, is.

By the time the whistle sounded for full time, the Reds had made a statement; one which bellows that they are more than ready to compete; they have a strong enough squad; a fully fit squad which left many Premier League sides scarred in 2020.

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