English Premiership

Guardiola praises Van Dijk, Liverpool defence ahead of crunch clash

2019-01-03 15:53
Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has labelled Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk an "exceptional player" ahead of Thursday night's clash between the two title rivals.

The Reds boast the meanest defence in the Premier League this season, conceding just eight goals in 20 fixtures, and the addition of Van Dijk in the off-season is undeniably the biggest reason for their newfound solidity at the back.

The Netherlands international did not come cheap, however, with the Merseysiders fending off strong interest from the likes of Man City and Chelsea thanks to a world record transfer fee of £75 million.

Van Dijk's positive influence has not gone unnoticed by Guardiola, who feels the centre-back gone some way towards justifying his lofty price-tag.

"He's an exceptional player," said Guardiola. "When a player costs whatever it costs and it works, it is well worth it.

"When you pay less and it doesn't work, it is so expensive.

"If he can play every three days with no injuries and play consistently, it is well worth it."

Looking ahead to the big clash on Thursday night, Guardiola gave his assessment of Liverpool's squad while also commenting on their progress since last season.

"They are solid in behind," he told Sky Sports. "In the positional game when the opponents defend deep they had problems attacking them but now they are able to attack them really well.

"In the transition as always, they are so good. In the set-pieces they are a massive, tall team.

"So it is a team that can control all areas. That is why I am saying what I am saying.

"In front they play the same players, but in the middle they have changed a little and especially at the back. They have changed a lot of players at the back.

"And they know each other better. They have had four or five seasons together."

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Fixtures
Saturday, 29 February 2020
Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace, The American Express Community Stadium 14:30
West Ham United v Southampton, London Stadium 17:00
Newcastle United v Burnley, St. James' Park 17:00
AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea, Vitality Stadium 17:00
Watford v Liverpool, Vicarage Road 19:30
Sunday, 01 March 2020
Manchester City v Arsenal, Etihad Stadium 02:00
Everton v Manchester United, Goodison Park 16:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 16:00
Saturday, 07 March 2020
Liverpool v AFC Bournemouth, Anfield 14:30
Sheffield United v Norwich City, Bramall Lane 17:00
Arsenal v West Ham United, Emirates Stadium 17:00
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Brighton & Hove Albion, Molineux Stadium 17:00
Crystal Palace v Watford, Selhurst Park 17:00
Southampton v Newcastle United, St. Mary's Stadium 17:00
Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur, Turf Moor 19:30
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

And the 2019/20 English Premiership champions will be ... ?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2019/20 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.