Van Dijk: Liverpool were unlucky but fans' nerves are 'unnecessary' at this stage

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Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2018/19
The Reds dropped points against Leicester on Wednesday after a sloppy, lethargic display at an edgy Anfield

There are draws that can feel like victories, and draws that can feel like defeats.

For Liverpool, Wednesday’s Anfield stalemate with Leicester felt like the latter, though in the grand scheme of things it could still be viewed as the former. The point takes them five clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table with 14 games remaining.

An enviable position, even if Jurgen Klopp and Co. will feel it could and should have been better.

This was the first time this season that Liverpool have dropped points against a team outside the top six, and just the second time they have failed to win at home in the league. They led early through Sadio Mane, but were punished for a slack, lethargic performance by Harry Maguire’s first-half equaliser. Indeed, had Leicester shown a little more composure in the final third, things may have been worse for Klopp’s side.

Klopp was circumspect afterwards, reflecting on the fact his side have extended their advantage over City this week, though he was right to lament his team's lack of vibrancy and composure, and to praise Claude Puel’s men for the quality of their defensive performance too.

Speaking shortly after the final whistle, defender Virgil van Dijk was similarly measured in his appraisal.

Asked what had been lacking from the Reds’ display, the Dutchman told reporters: “I don’t know, a bit of luck I think, a bit of extra edge maybe, that we sometimes have a little bit more than tonight.

“There are a lot of circumstances tonight that play a part. They are a good team, they play good football, great players, and for us we were just not lucky enough I think.”

Naby Keita Ricardo Pereira Liverpool Leicester 2018/19

Van Dijk, perhaps wisely, stopped short of criticising referee Martin Atkinson, though the officials’ failure to award a penalty when Naby Keita was clipped by Ricardo Pereira in the second half was certainly a talking point, post-match.

“That’s something I’m not going to comment on,” said Van Dijk. “It could have ended differently but I think they had a situation in the first half where they could have had a penalty, that’s what at least the players said, I’m not sure.

“But it is what it is, sometimes you have to accept these decisions, you can’t change it after the game. It looked like Naby was taken out, that’s what I saw as well but, obviously, the ref didn’t give it and we can’t change it anymore.”

Interestingly, Van Dijk spoke about sensing the nervousness of supporters inside the stadium, in particular as the minutes ticked on. Anfield had come expecting their side to roll over the Foxes, especially when Mane fired them ahead after just two minutes, but in freezing conditions, Liverpool’s performance rarely lifted above average.

“It sounded like it [was nervous],” Van Dijk admitted, though he insisted that would not transmit to the players.

“Nah, not to me! But, obviously, you get that feeling as well from the crowd and I think it’s not really necessary at the moment.

“But, obviously, everyone wants to win so bad and that’s what we want as well but sometimes you need to be very patient.

“The pitch was horrendous. It was full of ice, obviously, but they need to deal with that as well. We had most of the ball and then it’s difficult to break them down. At times we had our opportunities, we were dangerous, but in the end it wasn’t enough to score a goal.”

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Van Dijk added: “Disappointment is not the right word. I think, obviously, you want to win the game. We started amazingly with the goal from Sadio and then it was a tough game [against a] good opponent.

“I think we don’t need to forget that as well, they are just a good team as well and [we were] unlucky that we didn’t win.”

Liverpool will have James Milner available for the next game, away at West Ham on Monday, after he served a one-match suspension. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s fitness will be assessed ahead of the trip to the London Stadium.