Big Match

Reds the hungrier side, says Van Dijk

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, with goalkeeper Alisson Becker, is expecting "a game full of passion" against Everton today at Goodison Park, which will host its 100th league meeting between the clubs.
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, with goalkeeper Alisson Becker, is expecting "a game full of passion" against Everton today at Goodison Park, which will host its 100th league meeting between the clubs.PHOTO: REUTERS

Liverpool star vows to fight for victory in Merseyside derby to aid push for league crown

LONDON • Virgil van Dijk believes Liverpool will want victory more than Everton in the Merseyside derby today owing to the ramifications in the pursuit of the Premier League title.

Everton have not beaten Liverpool since October 2010 and a winless sequence of 16 league derbies is the longest barren spell in the club's history. The manner of Liverpool's victory in the 96th minute of December's derby also smarts for Marco Silva's side, whose form plummeted afterwards.

However, none of those factors compare with the prize of landing Liverpool's first league championship since 1990, according to van Dijk, who insists the greater motivation at Goodison Park today will be among the players in red.

The Liverpool defender said: "I've played in the Old Firm (Celtic v Rangers) derby, which is really intense. But this is the Premier League and it's totally different.

"It will be a game that can go either way and sometimes in these type of games it is who wants it the most.

"We are in a position where we definitely want it the most and hopefully we can show it on the pitch."

The Dutchman expects "a game full of passion" and says he will thrive on the knowledge that Everton, like Manchester United last weekend, are desperate to damage their rivals' title challenge.

"I like that," he said. "It is always something which motivates you even more and it is a great game to play in. It's the derby and it's special but we want to show our quality, win the game - hopefully with good football but if not, we are going to fight for it."

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp is friends with a few Evertonians who want Liverpool to win the league rather than Manchester City. He refused to divulge names for safety reasons; such is the nature of the fierce rivalry of the two clubs.

"I am not allowed to speak about it," the German, who has won five and drawn two of his seven Merseyside derbies, said jokingly.

"I promised I would not say their names because that could cause them problems. Because they know me they think it is better for us (to win the league) than somebody else they don't know."

Klopp believes Liverpool's dominance of the derby in recent years should inspire, rather than intimidate Everton today, when Goodison hosts its 100th league meeting between the clubs.

He said: "That (nine years unbeaten) is much easier to work on for the other side. It is much easier to motivate them and say: 'Come on boys, it's time. It's our moment'. It's much easier for them.

"We respect them a lot as a team. That is how we have to see it. That is how we have to deal with it, not thinking we have had a couple of good results.

"We have had difficult games against Everton but really good results and we have to think about what we did attitude-wise in these games so we were always ready. We have to be that again.

"It is really important we don't take anything - not just in this game but in all games - for granted. Just work for it and the world is open."

THE GUARDIAN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 03, 2019, with the headline 'Reds the hungrier side, says Van Dijk'. Print Edition | Subscribe