Former Chelsea defender Scott Minto has blasted Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk for his poor defending in the Reds’ 1-0 defeat at AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday (March 11). A first-half goal from Philip Billing saw the hosts claim all three points and move out of the relegation zone.
Starring for Bournemouth was Burkinabe winger Dango Ouattara, who was named the Man of the Match for his performance. The forward gave headaches to Liverpool’s defenders, including on-field captain Van Dijk.
Ouattara notably got the better of the Netherlands international in the build-up to Billing’s winner. Van Dijk failed to keep up with the winger’s pace and was left helpless as the Cherries opened the scoring.
Commentating on talkSPORT, Minto explained that he was baffled by Van Dijk’s defending in the lead-up to Billing’s goal. The former Chelsea left-back accused Van Dijk of giving up against Ouattara.
“The pace of Ouattara in behind, it’s a high line and a simple ball over the top. I don’t know what Van Dijk was doing,” Minto said. “It looked like he gave it up there. I really don’t know what Van Dijk was doing; he didn’t seem to stay with Ouattara at all.”
Minto acknowledged that Van Dijk could be feeling fatigued after starting Liverpool’s last six games across competitions. However, he added that the Reds should be rotating their squad if that’s the case, saying:
“Of course, he’s a key member of the squad and one of the best centre-backs in world football, but he has been complaining about fitness and the schedule. If he’s not right, rest him! That’s what a big squad is for.”
Van Dijk has made 30 appearances across competitions for the Anfield outfit this season. He has helped the club keep 11 clean sheets, bagging three goals.
What’s next for Liverpool?
The defeat against Bournemouth snapped Liverpool‘s five-game unbeaten run in the Premier League. It also handed a blow to their hopes of securing a top-four finish this season.
Klopp’s side are fifth in the standings with 42 points from 26 games. They’re six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur but have a game in hand. The Reds will now turn their attention towards the second leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie against Real Madrid on Wednesday (March 15). They lost the first leg 5-2 at Anfield last month.