Van Dijk praises Liverpool’s mental strength


London (AFP) – Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool’s ability to stay calm under pressure is the key to their astonishing Premier League title charge after they came from behind to beat West Ham 3-2.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are 22 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City and need just four more wins to guarantee winning their first top-flight title for 30 years.

Despite the huge points gap, Liverpool have had to overcome some threats to their season-long unbeaten record in recent weeks. 

They were 2-1 down to the Hammers on Monday with 22 minutes to go while they beat Norwich with a solitary 78th-minute goal earlier this month.

Defender Van Dijk praised the mental strength of his teammates, who have won 26 and drawn just one of their 27 Premier League matches.

“Not being nervous, that is the main thing,” he said. “Keep going and keep playing and keep pressing. There will be moments when the opponent is going to have problems if we keep doing the same thing.

“They (West Ham) were a little bit better in the second half than the beginning, they played quite well but I think not being nervous is the main thing.”

West Ham’s opening goal by Issa Diop was the first conceded at Anfield in 11 hours and 27 minutes.

“We all want the clean sheet, we all want eight goals, that is what every footballer wants but in reality sometimes you have difficult nights,” said the Dutch international.

“We had a difficult night but we kept our cool.”

Since returning from their mid-season break, Klopp’s side appear to have lacked some of their previous fluency, labouring to beat Norwich and West Ham and losing to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Spain.

But Van Dijk said the time off had not dulled their fire.

“I think we should take advantage of the break we had,” he added. “Everyone had their time off, we all enjoyed it and we are all ready for the second part of the season.”

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