Former Liverpool star’s comments hint at one key player performing below expectations

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Former Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson has commented on the state of the Reds’ defence this season, suggesting that the dazzling form of star forward Mohamed Salah is papering over some cracks in Jurgen Klopp’s side.

This could also be seen as a bit of a thinly-veiled dig at Virgil van Dijk, who perhaps isn’t having the positive impact some would have expected now that he’s back from his lengthy spell out injured last season.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Johnson made it clear he didn’t think Liverpool currently look as solid as they have in the past, and though he didn’t mention Van Dijk in particular, it does seem a bit of a concern that he’s making these comments after the club waited so eagerly for the Dutchman to return to action.

Virgil van Dijk in action for Liverpool

“I don’t think they’re as rock-solid as they have been,” Johnson told the Mirror.

“They’ve got very high standards and they set the bar high of course. By their standards, I don’t think a few of their players are at their best – but I don’t think they have to be at their best to win football matches.

“If they want to take this title race to the line and go deep in the Champions League then they will have to hit form at the right time. So I don’t think they’ve been as solid as they usually are, but they’re still performing well enough to win games.

“Anytime you’ve got players like [Salah] on the pitch, then you’re always gonna be a threat. He’s always going to peg teams back if you’ve got the ball, so it doesn’t matter if your defence isn’t on form anyway.”

Van Dijk is surely good enough to improve as the campaign goes on, but it might be that the amount of time he spent out of action will mean he’s never quite as good as he was before.

Many elite players have suffered after similar injury blows, and LFC fans will just have to hope that Van Dijk can still at least keep performing at a high enough level, even if it’s a little lower than his previous high standards.

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