Virgil van Dijk’s message before Manchester United vs Liverpool

Last season they humiliated their arch-rivals 5-0 in front of their own fans and then won 4-0 at Anfield.

And while United appear to be in greater disarray than they were last October under new manager Erik ten Hag, Liverpool have also had teething problems so far, having already trailed Premier League champions Manchester City by four points with two draws.

Even without suspended striker Darwin Nunez – Roberto Firmino trained on Thursday and is expected to return to the team after missing out on a draw with Fulham as a precaution – Jürgen Klopp’s side are strong favorites for Monday’s game.

However, Van Dijk stressed that the first win of the season was more important than adding to the misery of their northwestern neighbors.

“It’s huge, but it’s not about making a statement, we want to win and do everything we can to win there,” said the Netherlands captain, who cleared speculation of a knee problem after Fulham by training with the team.

“Over the years it has proved difficult for us to win there, last year was of course a great result, we cannot deny that.

“They had a difficult start this year and we didn’t have the best start we wanted either, so it’s going to be interesting.

“In my opinion they are a good team, they have good players everywhere on the pitch.

“Obviously they’re not in the best position in terms of confidence, but it’s the perfect game to turn it around for them.

“But we’re looking at ourselves and want to make sure we’re ready for that and we’ll be working hard again this week.

“We created a lot of chances (against Fulham), unfortunately we didn’t score (enough, but we’re here with a point and we don’t want that.”

Despite Firmino’s return, Klopp’s injury crisis shows no signs of abating.

A total of eight first-team players are currently absent with defenders Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip and Calvin Ramsay, midfielders Thiago Alcantara, Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, forward Diogo Jota and reserve goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher all injured.

Klopp joked on Monday he thought there was a witch at the training ground last week leaving many players unavailable but Joe Gomez is expected to start alongside Van Dijk at Old Trafford having only been fit enough to play against the Cottagers to come off the bench but has been training this week.

Van Dijk was paired with Nat Phillips on Monday, their first outing together, but the Dutchman takes it all in stride.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of football. We have to deal with it, recover as much as we can now and then focus on United,” he added.

“It’s going to be a tough away game again but hopefully we’ll get some players back and we’ll perform well and just stay positive and think about the win.

“It’s a big game, a game in itself. We are all looking forward to that.” Virgil van Dijk’s message before Manchester United vs Liverpool


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