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LIVERPOOL BOSS JURGEN KLOPP ‘SURPRISED’ TALKSPORT PUNDIT WITH DECISION AT CRYSTAL PALACE

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp ‘surprised’ talkSPORT pundit Scott Minto with the decision to start Virgil van Dijk as their left-sided centre-half away to Crystal Palace.

Minto was stunned to see Jarell Quansah lining up beside Trent Alexander-Arnold at Selhurst Park on Saturday. He expected to see Van Dijk inhabiting his normal role in the Liverpool line in south London. But the 32-year-old edged over to the left following Joel Matip’s ACL injury.

Van Dijk had also assumed the left-sided role in Klopp’s backline as Liverpool beat Sheffield United without Matip on Wednesday. Ibrahima Konate came in for the crocked centre-back at Bramall Lane. But the 24-year-old accepted a seat on the Reds’ bench away to the Eagles.

Jarell Quansah joined Virgil van Dijk in the Liverpool XI at Crystal Palace

Quansah playing Crystal Palace marked a rare appearance for the 20-year-old in the Premier League. He had only played once since making the centre-half’s sole start of the term back in September at Wolves. Klopp also only played Quansah against Brentford in stoppage time.

Matip and Van Dijk firmly established themselves as Klopp’s favoured centre-back duo prior to the 32-year-old’s injury. But the German is, seemingly, still looking for his new first-choice pairing after starting Quansah beside Van Dijk over Konate as Liverpool faced Crystal Palace.

Jurgen Klopp ‘surprised’ Scott Minto with Virgil van Dijk’s initial position 

But it was Klopp’s decision to play Van Dijk on the left-hand side of Liverpool’s defence away to Crystal Palace that stunned Minto. The former Chelsea full-back believes the Dutchman is finally close to playing at his best again after the knee injury he sustained in October 2020.

“Van Dijk is pretty much back to how he was before his injury,” Minto told talkSPORT (09/12, 12:34). So, I’m surprised he’s not on the right-hand side.”

Van Dijk suffered cruciate ligament damage during a Merseyside derby at Everton that ruled him out for the rest of the 2020/21 season. He would return for the start of 2021/22. But his form at Anfield was often far below the imperious performances the Reds had been used to.

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