With six straight victories, Liverpool have managed to re-enter the top-four discussion and is now only one point behind Manchester United, their bitter rival.
The suddenly fascinating calculations for a top-four finish don’t interest Virgil van Dijk.
The Liverpool talisman, on the other hand, is intensely focused on his team finishing the season on a winning note in order to elevate them back to the top of the league for the upcoming campaign.
Many people are speculating as to whether Erik Ten Hag’s team will crumble under the increasing pressure of recent weeks, especially in light of Manchester United’s defeat at West Ham giving the Anfield club some hope in the race for the Champions League.
Van Dijk adamantly maintains that he is not one of them. He joked, “that’s something for you guys to talk about,” when asked if Liverpool was back in the top four discussion.
As they already possess “England’s best midfielder,” Liverpool was advised to alter their transfer strategy.
And when it was mentioned that manager Jurgen Klopp didn’t believe United would lose enough points, he made a joke, “Well, I don’t either, then!”
At the top, the calculations have become more precise. Newcastle need two victories and a draw to ensure they finish ahead of Liverpool, while United need three victories from their final four games to achieve the same result.
However, Brighton is still very much in the running and have a chance to come third. Van Dijk argued that returning the feel-good factor is what Liverpool need to focus on right now rather than getting sucked into the guessing game.
They have won six straight Premier League games since drawing with Arsenal in a thriller at Anfield that they ought to have won, and the Reds defender wants them to keep it up in their final three games to put an end to the gloom of a wildly inconsistent season.
Liverpool have now won six consecutive games to close the gap on the top four.
“The season has been very difficult mentally for all of us, the manager included, and anyone associated with the club. But it’s how you handle it,” he said.
“So far, we have been handling it in the right way. Hopefully, we can win the remaining games, carry that positive attitude into the upcoming season, and return to where we want to be.”
We know when things need to improve, and this season that was pretty obvious as a team, says Van Dijk, pointing out how far below par Liverpool have performed this year. We operate in a similar manner.”
He does, however, think that things haven’t necessarily been as bad as some of the critics claim, with some even suggesting that the team practically needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.
The defender said, “When things aren’t going the right way then we are at the bottom in terms of criticism, when things are going better we could be praised to the skies or the heavens. I’ve taken a long, hard look at myself and held my hands up for a slip in form, but now with the aim of ending the season with a nine game winning streak, he added.
“Putting a lot of things into perspective is the goal. In the end, it’s a group effort. The front obviously has no chance to score goals if the back isn’t playing well, and vice versa.
“You must attempt to block out the noise. The only way to return to the place where we feel like we belong is what I did, what the other players are doing, and that is the only answer. Get back to doing it all together and taking pleasure in it as well.”
The objective is now straightforward and excludes worrying excessively about Manchester United’s performance: “There’s still room for improvement – winning six games in a row is something that hasn’t happened this season.
“But let’s just keep going, take it all in, and hopefully carry it over to the upcoming season for a very successful one.”