Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk tells team not to panic after Napoli defeat

• Loss in Italy ‘shouldn’t be a wake-up call’
• Defender turns his focus to Chelsea game

Virgil van Dijk has said a Champions League defeat at Napoli is no reason for Liverpool to panic given the outstanding form they have shown before Sunday’s trip to Chelsea.

On Tuesday Liverpool suffered their first defeat since last season’s Champions League semi-final first leg at Barcelona, when two late goals, the first from a controversial penalty, brought a second reverse at Stadio San Paolo inside 11 months. Jürgen Klopp’s team lost all three away group games en route to winning the European Cup last season. But Van Dijk believes it is current form that will preserve Liverpool’s confidence when they head to Stamford Bridge seeking a sixth consecutive Premier League win of the campaign.

“I don’t know if it’s a wake-up call,” the defender said of defeat in Naples. “Both sides were full in the game and thought it was going to be a draw. Obviously the penalty changed it all and we’re going home with no points but it shouldn’t be a wake-up call. We’ve been performing since the start of the season outstanding so there’s no reason for panic. The majority in the game we played well, we put them under pressure and we created opportunities on the break. There’s a lot of positive things apart from the result. We have to try to win our other games and we now focus on Chelsea.”

Van Dijk was culpable for Napoli’s second goal with a poor back pass to Fernando Llorente. Andy Robertson had been penalised for the spot-kick 10 minutes earlier but Klopp cited Liverpool’s failure to capitalise on several counterattacks as the main flaw in their performance.

Van Dijk added: “They [Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino] made a lot of problems for Napoli and we had opportunities to hurt them a lot but we didn’t do it too much. That can happen. We are human beings; that’s part of the game. Sometimes you pick the other pass instead of the right pass. We had moments in the game we could have done better. If the penalty wasn’t there I think it was going to be a draw. The reality is we conceded the penalty and it was unlucky Adrián was unable to save it.”

Liverpool were unbeaten in the Premier League last season following Champions League defeats – drawing against Manchester City and beating Fulham, Everton plus Newcastle – and Van Dijk believes a refusal to dwell on disappointment is part of the team’s mental strength.

“We don’t think about that at all,” he said. “We just try to win the [next] game. We played well at times against Napoli and made it very difficult for them. It’s not easy to do that because they have the fans and they are a very good football side but we did it. But it’s all about the results in the end.”


Andy Hunter

The GuardianTramp

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