Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk emphasizes their determination to “enjoy the ride” as they challenge Manchester City in the Premier League title race.
Pep Guardiola’s side briefly claimed the top spot in the table for the first time since November with a lunchtime victory over Everton. However, Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Burnley later in the day restored their two-point lead.
The match against Burnley presented its challenges, and a record crowd of 59,896 endured some tense moments before second-half goals from Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez relieved the pressure.
Van Dijk acknowledges that there will be some nervousness in their attempt to prevent City from securing an unprecedented fourth consecutive title, considering the sustained consistency of their rivals’ results at this stage of the season. However, he believes that Liverpool, still competing on four fronts, are in a strong position.
“I think everyone would love to be in this situation that you are on the top and fighting for the pinnacle which is winning the Premier League,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to stay calm. In the first half when Burnley became a couple of times dangerous you felt the crowd get a bit nervous but that is how a human being is.
“We need the fans, we need all the players, we need everyone to be ready in order to find a way to win the game.
“We will have setbacks, we will have moments of difficulty but we have to deal with that. Let’s just enjoy the ride.
“We are in a situation that I think last year around this time you would never, well maybe not never, have believed where we are today.
“We can only influence what we are doing. That’s the only thing.”
Van Dijk urges Liverpool youngster to seize their opportunities
Following their second defeat at Arsenal the previous weekend, Liverpool faced challenges with key players unavailable. Goalkeeper Alisson Becker, Joe Gomez, and Ibrahima Konate were absent due to illness and suspension, while Mohamed Salah and Dominik Szobozslai were sidelined with injuries. The list of absentees expanded further when Trent Alexander-Arnold was forced off at halftime due to a recurring knee problem.
Despite these setbacks, Liverpool struggled to establish a rhythm in the match. They managed to take the lead in the 30th minute when Diogo Jota capitalized on a misjudgment by Burnley goalkeeper James Trafford from an Alexander-Arnold corner. However, Liverpool still struggled to gain control, with Dara O’Brien’s powerful header posing a potential threat. Fortunately, Diaz’s goal seven minutes into the second half provided some relief for Liverpool.
Harvey Elliott, who replaced Alexander-Arnold, played a crucial role by providing both assists. Despite previously expressing his reluctance to be a substitute, Elliott’s contributions off the bench have proven to be influential, perhaps even more so than his performances when starting earlier in the season.
“It’s very important for these guys that when they have their moments, Harvey in this case, they grab them with both hands. We need them,” added Van Dijk.
“Even if you start on the bench, you have to be ready to make an impact. This was a great example of that again.
“He (Elliott) would love to be playing week in, week out, but playing at the highest level you also have to be patient and don’t be frustrated that you don’t play as sometimes it is part of the business.”