'Forget Joshua vs Ngannou' - Jamie Carragher pinpoints key Liverpool 'heavyweight' vs Man City

Liverpool host Manchester City at Anfield with heavyweights among both sets of players.

Jamie Carragher believes the responsibility of being Liverpool captain has helped Virgil van Dijk return to his best as the defender prepares to face 'heavyweight' Erling Haaland this weekend.

Liverpool welcome Manchester City to Anfield in what is undoubtedly the biggest game of the Premier League season so far. The Reds currently sit top of the table and victory over their fierce rivals could see the gap increase to four points if Arsenal also drop points against Brentford on Saturday.

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Jurgen Klopp's side have only conceded one goal in their last four games across all competitions and the commanding Van Dijk has been central to that improved form. The Dutchman will face a massive challenge in keeping Haaland quiet and Carragher believes that battle will be key in deciding the result.

“Sunday’s key action zone is between Van Dijk and Erling Haaland,” Carragher wrote in his column for The Telegraph. “Forget Anthony Joshua versus Francis Ngannou. This is the real heavyweight clash of the weekend and the season. There was a revealing scene in Liverpool’s dressing room after the Carabao Cup final, Van Dijk reflecting on the trophy win. ‘And they said I was finished,’ he smiled towards the camera.

“This has been like a comeback year, proof that the problems 12 months ago were a blip, solely down to being overexerted immediately before and following his cruciate knee injury. Van Dijk has been the league’s best centre back for six years. Last season was the first time his performances were not in the top five of any player in any position Since assuming the captaincy, he was returned to the player he looked when first signing for Liverpool in 2018, as if the responsibility has restored his level.

“Whenever you see Van Dijk on the pitch, there is a sense of Liverpool being his team and a determination to disprove that the suggestion that the Klopp era was done last summer. Now it is all about giving the manager the perfect send-off, the strength of their relationship demonstrated when they accepted the League Cup together. If Liverpool were to win the title this season, it will be even sweeter for Van Dijk given everything he has gone through since the last one in 2020.”

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