Virgil van Dijk is currently making the best strikers in England look like they’ve won a competition to share the pitch with their hero for a day.
Van Dijk is running while everyone else is playing walking football. Of course, that analogy doesn’t work because there’s not a drop of sweat on the Dutchman’s forehead come the end of the match.
But you get the point. His performances in the middle of Liverpool’s back four are defensive dominance at its finest. Gandalf the Grey with a Dutch twang and a ponytail.
Barring any mishaps, the 27-year-old will be crowned the PFA Player of the Year at the end of the season, becoming the first defender since John Terry to lift the award.
Terry’s crowning moment came after an imperious 2004/05 season for Chelsea in which, like Van Dijk, he had all the answers for any top-flight defensive tests. But bringing the art of defending back into the limelight isn’t the only thing Van Dijk and Terry of 04/05 share.
As things stand, Liverpool’s only Premier League loss this campaign came at the hands of Man City. Chelsea also suffered their only loss of the 2004/05 league season in the blue half of Manchester.
Admittedly it was a different era at City- for Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling read Paul Bosvelt, Sun Jihai and Jon Macken- but three points are three points.
Again, as long as Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno avoid any howlers, Liverpool will end up being the Premier League’s leanest defence, just as Chelsea were in 2005. Another topic of conversation for Van Dijk and Terry if they ever find themselves together on Come Dine With Me.
But the mutual acquaintances don’t stop there.
In theory, they can also talk about picking up a solitary Premier League Player of the Month award- Terry in January 2005 and Van Dijk in December- on the way to being named the PFA Player of the Year.
They can finish discussing the merits of scoring three league goals- two of which came as part of a double- during that season.
Terry scored twice against Charlton before netting against Arsenal while Van Dijk struck against Wolves then scored a double against Watford.
We’re yet to address the elephant in the room. Terry’s award-winning campaign ended with him lifting the Premier League trophy, as well as the League Cup.
With nine games to play, Liverpool find themselves one point behind a City side unrecognisable from Terry’s tour de force of a season.
All Van Dijk’s individual accolades will, ultimately, count for nothing if Liverpool fall short.
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