Arsene Wenger claims Liverpool have made life harder for next Arsenal manager in the transfer market

Arsene Wenger has just two matches remaining as Arsenal manager (Picture: Getty)Arsene Wenger believes his successor’s task has been complicated by Liverpool’s purchase of Virgil van Dijk.

The long-serving Arsenal manager has just two matches of his tenure remaining before he steps down at the end of the season.

Wenger insists whoever takes over the managerial reins at the Emirates does not need to make drastic changes to a squad which is destined to finish a staggering 30 points behind champions Manchester City.

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Liverpool broke the world-record for a defender when they paid Southampton £75million for Van Dijk in January and Wenger fears the market has been artificially inflated.

‘The squad doesn’t need much,’ said Wenger. ‘There is huge potential in there and good spirit.

Liverpool’s defence has dramatically improve since the signing of Virgil van Dijk in January (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal signed unknown Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos for an undisclosed fee in January (Picture: Getty)‘There’s a good basis. We need two or three additions and this team will compete for the title next season.

‘We don’t need massive spending. You are seeing defenders go for £70million.

‘It is difficult to know what is a lot.’

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Virgil van Dijk’s class reaction as referee blows his whistle after Roma clash

Virgil van Dijk has been in imperious form for Liverpool (Picture: Getty)Virgil van Dijk rewarded Jurgen Klopp’s patience with an impressive performance in Liverpool’s 7-6 aggregate Champions League semi-final win over Roma.

The Reds desperately tried to sign Van Dijk last summer but had to wait until January to wrap up a £75million deal for the defender – and boy was it worth the wait.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have lost only three matches in 2018 and the giant Dutchman has been at the heart of everything good about the Merseyside club in recent weeks.

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Van Dijk was on the end of a torrent of abuse from Southampton fans for the way he pushed through his move to Anfield. But he will have forgotten all of that by now.

The sheer joy as referee Damir Skomina blew his whistle at full-time was clear to see as Van Dijk dropped to the turf and began thumping the ground.

‘It means a lot. I think the whole club, players and everyone worked so hard for it,’ the Netherlands centre-back said after the clash.

‘Obviously tonight was very difficult if you look at the score. It’s the first game that Liverpool have lost in the Champions League this year.

‘But in the end we got there and now we can enjoy. Not too long, though, because Chelsea is just around the corner.’

Virgil van Dijk admitted Liverpool had a tough time in Rome (Picture: Getty)Asked if Liverpool got lucky on Wednesday night, Van Dijk responded: ‘Who cares? We’re through.

‘We had a couple of opportunities as well, so, yeah, that’s football.

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‘The ref made the decisions together with the assistants, and if the game plays like it played today…fair play, we’re through.’

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Virgil van Dijk hits back at complaining Roma players after Liverpool reach Champions League final

Virgil van Dijk responds to Roma’s complains: ‘Who cares?’ (Getty Images)Virgil van Dijk has dismissed complaints from Roma’s players after Liverpool reached the Champions League final on Wednesday evening.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were beaten 4-2 at the Stadio Olimpico but progressed to the final against Real Madrid on May 26 with a 7-6 victory on aggregate.

Roma, however, had two strong penalty claims turned down in the second half as Edin Dzeko was brought down by Loris Karius, while Stephan El Shaarawy’s goal-bound strike was blocked by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s hand.

But when asked about Roma’s two rejected penalty appeals, Van Dijk replied: Who cares? We’re through.

We had a couple of opportuities as well, so, yeah, that’s football.

The ref made the decisions together with the assistants, and if the game plays like it played today…fair play, we’re through.

Georginio Wijnaldum and Van Dijk celebrate Liverpool reaching the Champions League final. (Getty Images)More: Football

Asked what qualities Liverpool possess to trouble Real Madrid in the final, Van Dijk replied: ‘If you look at the way we play, the way we press, the way we dominate teams at times.

‘We need to be ready when the game is there.

‘But for now we need to enjoy for a couple of days then the full focus is on the Premier League because we still have a job to do.’

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Virgil van Dijk admits he couldn’t sleep following Liverpool’s victory over Manchester City

Virgil van Dijk was in inspired form against Manchester City at Anfield (Picture: Getty)Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has revealed that he struggled to sleep following the side’s 3-0 defeat of Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Van Dijk, 26, joined Liverpool in January in the hope of playing important matches on the European stage and the defender put in an accomplished display to keep out the likes of Gabriel Jesus and David De Bruyne.

Goals from Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane secured a three-goal advantage over City at Anfield ahead of the second leg.

‘It was difficult to fall asleep,’ Van Dijk told Liverpool’s official website when asked about his emotions after the first-leg victory.

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‘The game at home was an amazing example – everyone was 100 per cent focused and at it. Everyone showed their quality.

‘And you see what can happen. It was a total performance; in the first half we dominated possession and had our good moments and scored good goals; in the second half we defended as a unit and it was a fantastic game.’

Mohamed Salah scored Liverpool’s opening goal against Manchester City (Picture: Getty)

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The Dutch centre-back warned his team-mates against complacency ahead of their trip to the Etihad.

‘You can’t deny that being 3-0 up is going to be a little bit in your mind,’ he said.

‘But we need to go into the game with the mindset that it’s still 0-0. We want to win the game and we want to play well.

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‘We know how good they are, we know their strengths and weaknesses as well.

‘We need to be ready for everything that is possible – and we will be.’

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Virgil van Dijk unconcerned with potential retaliation from Manchester City fans

Virgil van Dijk is a leader on the pitch for Liverpool (Picture: PA Wire)Virgil van Dijk has insisted he and his Liverpool team-mates will not be intimated by any hostile reception from Manchester City supporters at the Etihad.

Liverpool fans threw bottles and objects at the City team bus when it arrived at Anfield for the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final last week.

There is talk online that City supporters will look to replicate a similarly hostile environment for the second game on Tuesday night.

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Anfield has become a fortress for Liverpool this season, but Van Dijk assured supporters the away atmosphere will not affect him or his team-mates.

He said: ‘I can’t comment on what happened before the game. I had no control over that. We just need to be ready for the football match. That’s the only thing we can have influence on.’

Liverpool released a statement condemning the actions of the supporters who attacked the City bus, while Uefa has opened an investigation into the incident.

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(Picture: Getty

Liverpool have a 3-0 lead from the first leg (Picture: EPA)City’s stars insisted they were not affected by the hostile arrival, but Liverpool did demolish the soon-to-be Premier League champions 3-0.

The Reds drew from an electric atmosphere inside Anfield and scored three goals in the first half hour.

Jurgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool will not change their approach despite coming into the second leg with a huge lead.

Liverpool 2017/18 Fixtures

Manchester City (Champions League) (A) – Tues April 10Bournemouth (H) – Sat April 14 West Brom (A) – Sun April 22Stoke City (H) – Sat April 28Chelsea (A) – Sun May 6Brighton (H) – Sun May 13

Jurgen Klopp and his side executed the perfect game plan in the first game (Picture: PA)

(Picture: Reuters)‘The quality of City was clear. We all know about Pep, best coach in the world,’ he said.

‘It was clear they would be outstanding but there is no perfect football team in the world.

‘They have it most consistently, that is why they will be (league) champions, but we know they can concede goals.’

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Virgil van Dijk sends warning to Liverpool team-mates ahead of Manchester City showdown

Virgil van Dijk has helped Liverpool improve at the back (Picture: Getty)Virgil van Dijk has urged his team-mates to adopt the right mind-set when they take on Manchester City on Tuesday night.

Liverpool take a 3-0 lead to the Etihad for the second leg of the quarter-final and are firmly in the driving seat after a wonderful display at Anfield.

City have to attack in the second, but Van Dijk does not want his team-mates’ mentality to slip.

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The centre-back believes Liverpool need to fight fire with fire and not sit back against City.

‘It’s pretty clear that defending a three nil here is going to be a strange situation,’ Van Dijk said ahead of the game.

‘We need to come in with the mindset it’s 0-0. We want to win the game and we want to score goals.

(Picture: Getty)

Liverpool 2017/18 Fixtures

Manchester City (Champions League) (A) – Tues April 10Bournemouth (H) – Sat April 14 West Brom (A) – Sun April 22Stoke City (H) – Sat April 28Chelsea (A) – Sun May 6Brighton (H) – Sun May 13

‘We defend pretty well, very compact. We showed that in the second half. We need to keep the mindset of winning the game rather than defending a lead.’

City beat Liverpool 5-0 earlier in the season at home and are capable of dismantling any side.

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(Picture: Reuters)The Sky Blues however are still licking their wounds from a 3-2 defeat to Manchester United at the weekend and Van Dijk believes Liverpool are ready to pick City off once again.

‘We feel like we’re in a great moment as a team. We can make it difficult for any team in the world but we have to show it. We have to fight,’ he said.

‘We have played well against them. We defended as a unit, so we’re pretty confident. They need to come, but we need to be ready. Like I said, we want to win the game.’

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Virgil van Dijk claims he knows how to stop Mohamed Salah ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Manchester City

Mohamed Salah can be stopped, claims Virgil van Dijk. (AFP/Getty Images)Virgil van Dijk admits Manchester City have the potential to stop Mohamed Salah ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League clash on Wednesday evening.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are preparing to host Jurgen Klopp’s side in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at Anfield, and Salah will arrive in sublime form with seven goals in his last six appearances for Liverpool.

Asked if he thinks Salah is capable of causing City problems, Van Dijk said: ‘That’s what everyone knows. That’s how we feel as well.

‘He’s that kind of player that you just need to be on your best.

‘When he is 100 per cent and in the zone then he can beat anyone.

Van Dijk is preparing to take on Man City in the Champions League. (Getty Images)‘There are ways to stop him but I’m not going to tell you because I don’t want our opponents to think about it.’

Van Dijk also praised the spirit in Liverpool’s dressing room ahead of their crucial clash against City.

‘I think everyone in the dressing room are just normal guys,’ said the Dutchman.

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‘Nobody feels better than each other, everybody is working hard for each other to get the win.

‘That’s a very good thing to have in a team. Everyone knows our team spirit and without all of us Mo wouldn’t have scored his goals.

‘That’s what he knows and that’s what everyone knows. Everyone needs to be giving 100 per cent and I think we do that.’

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Virgil van Dijk scores quality goal as Liverpool & Man Utd flops punish awful Portugal

Van Dijk was among the first half scorers (Picture: REUTERS)Virgil van Dijk scored a fine goal to punish a lacklustre Portugal, leaving Fernando Santos’ side 3-0 down to the Netherlands at half-time.

The Liverpool defender was part of a trio of familiar scorers, with Manchester United and Liverpool flops Memphis Depay and Ryan Babel also scoring against the European champions.

Depay, who is enjoying a fine season with Lyon, put the Dutch in the lead with a stretched finish.

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Holland take the lead against Portugal. Against the run of play really as Memphis Depay strikes from inside the box. The Dutch employing a really weird 5-3-2. Good to see the like of Rolando and Manuel Fernandes back in the Portuguese set-up too.
— Deepan (@dfordeeps) March 26, 2018

Babel then thumped a header into the back of the net to pile misery onto Santos’ side, which left Cristiano Ronaldo berating his team-mates for their shoddy defending.

🎥- Ryan Babel’s lovely header to make it 2-0.
— Besiktas Talk (@BesiktasTalk) March 26, 2018

And on the stroke of half-time Van Dijk slammed home a third for the Dutch, who enjoyed a remarkable half.

En dat is 3-0 voor het Nederlands Elftal tegen Portugal. Doelpuntenmaker Virgil van Dijk. #PorNed #Koeman
— Frank Koken (@FrankKoken) March 26, 2018

Ronald Koeman’s team were beaten by England on Friday night after Jesse Lingard’s sole strike but they won’t be involved in Russia this summer.

Portugal, who have qualified for the World Cup after winning Euro 2016 will certainly be asking serious questions after what was an appalling first half of football.

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sends message to Virgil van Dijk after England beat Netherlands

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain featured in England’s victory over Netherlands on Friday evening. (AP Photo)Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has teased his Liverpool teammate Virgil van Dijk after England beat Netherlands on Friday night.

Jesse Lingard’s second-half strike secured victory for Gareth Southgate’s side, who delivered another encouraging performance ahead of this summer’s World Cup campaign.

After the match, Oxlade-Chamberlain took the opportunity to celebrate England’s latest triumph, but also fired a light-hearted dig at Van Dijk.

Van Dijk was pictured turning his back on a shot – and Oxlade-Chamberlain was keen to point out the Dutchman’s error.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s message to Van Dijk. (Instagram)Southgate, meanwhile, praised Henderson for his performance in midfield and claims the Liverpool captain was an influential figure for his teammates.

‘He’s got some tremendous human qualities and is a certain leader of men,’ said the England manager.

‘He worked the game out very well today, spotted the tactical changes the Dutch made in switching their system three times, speaking to others and telling them where to press.

‘Obviously he’s one of the few guys who captains his club. Or has captained his club. He’s comfortable in that role.

‘He’s comfortable to speak up for the group. He has a mindset for the collective, not the self. That’s a hugely important attribute for a captain to have.’

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The best, worst and surprisingly successful January transfers featuring Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Virgil van Dijk

Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcot, Daniel Sturridge, Virgil van Dijk and Patrice Evra were among the players on the move in January (Picture: Getty; PA)It’s been nearly two months since the close of the January transfer window and with the cheques having cleared we can assess which moves really warranted all the hype.

It was arguably the most exciting mid-season window ever, with huge stars switching between some of the biggest clubs and vast sums of money changing hands.

But which new arrivals have had fans out of their seats and which have had them pulling their hair out?

Biggest flop – Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez couldn’t stop Manchester United being dumped out of the Champions League by Sevilla (Getty)Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United was the biggest deal of the lot, with the Chilean dramatically snubbing Manchester City in favour of Old Trafford (and the £350,000-a-week that came with it). The Red Devils revelled in his capture with the release of a cringey video to make the announcement, but things haven’t gone so well since.

In 10 appearances he’s scored just one goal and has looked well short of the levels he once showed at Arsenal. His arrival has also caused Jose Mourinho a selection dilemma in attack, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial pushed to the margins. Paul Pogba’s bad season has also deteriorated since January, with some pointing to Sanchez’s role in the team.

And now it’s even being reported that Sanchez is cutting an isolated figure and is eating alone in the Manchester United canteen. Is the former Arsenal man the new Angel Di Maria?

The perfect fit – Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk’s arrival was announced before the window even opened (Getty)For what felt like years Liverpool were persistently told ‘buy a top quality defender and you could be genuine contenders’. In January they finally heeded that advice with the £75m signing of Virgil van Dijk and the upturn in defensive displays from Jurgen Klopp’s side has been dramatic.

They’ve kept clean sheets in half the 10 games the Dutchman has played and some are beginning to believe Liverpool could be Man City’s biggest title challengers next season.

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Inevitably disappointing – Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley upon his arrival at Chelsea (Getty)Chelsea’s signing of Ross Barkley always felt more likely to fall into the category of a Scott Parker or Steve Sidwell arrival than the next Frank Lampard. And so far there’s been little evidence to the contrary.

Following his switch from Everton he’s made just three appearances and has since suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury that scuppered a move last summer. His one showing in the Premier League was the 3-0 home defeat to Bournemouth.

Surprising success – Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott has been Everton’s best player since his arrival (Getty)There was so much focus on a certain Alexis Sanchez and the possibility of some big-name arrivals at Arsenal that the departure of Theo Walcott went relatively unnoticed. But he’s arguably been the most successful transfer of the January window. In his eight appearances for Everton he’s scored twice, created another two and overall been the Toffees’ standout player.

Potential life saver – Kenedy

Kenedy celebrates one of his two goals against Southampton (Getty)In Newcastle’s final match before the international break young Chelsea loanee Kenedy scored a brace in a 3-0 win over relegation rivals Southampton. A couple more performances like that will be enough to save the Magpies from the drop.

Depressingly predictable – Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge moved to West Brom on loan (Getty)Switching to West Brom on loan looked the perfect move for Daniel Sturridge. Away from Liverpool he would get the regular football he needed and with the motivation of a place in the England World Cup squad there would be no stopping him.

But just three games into his loan spell at the Hawthorns the inevitable injury happened and, without a goal to his name, he hasn’t played since.

Smart buy – Alex Pritchard

Alex Pritchard celebrates (Getty)Huddersfield looked to be on an inevitable slide back to the Championship with the club suffering five straight Premier League defeats in January. But since then, they’ve picked up seven points from 15 and moved away from the relegation zone.

The busy displays of Alex Pritchard in midfield, signed for around £12million from Norwich, have been key to that. The former Tottenham academy product has weighed in with a goal and an assist and could just keep David Wagner’s team up.

Least missed – Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho switched to Barcelona (Getty)Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona saw him become the second most expensive player in history. But rather than feeling the void of one of the world’s best players having just left, Liverpool have thrived in his absence with the club third in the Premier League and through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Still to convince – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has three in six (Reuters)The most expensive arrival in the Premier League during the January window has bagged three goals in six appearances for Arsenal which is a healthy return. But having essentially ousted Alexandre Lacazette from the side and been unable to play in the Europa League (the only competition that actually matters to Arsenal) it’s too early to say if he was worth the £56m Arsenal paid.

Unhappy return – Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra in action for West Ham (Getty)Patrice Evra is something of a Premier League legend having won a shedload of titles with Manchester United. So when it was announced he was returning to England in the colours of West Ham it was widely welcomed. But since the veteran’s free transfer, he’s played twice and been on the wrong end of two 4-1 scorelines. Meanwhile West Ham fans have suffered a total meltdown and recently came close to a full-on riot at the London Stadium (although to be fair to Evra, that wasn’t really his fault).

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The one that got away – Michy Batshuayi

Michy Batshuayi celebrates one of his eight goals for Borussia Dortmund (Getty)During the January window Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wanted a striker who could provide competition for Alvaro Morata and bang in a few crucial goals. So in came Olivier Giroud from Arsenal who’s managed to score one goal in eight appearances. At the same time Michy Batshuayi went out on loan to Borussia Dortmund where the Belgian has since scored eight goals for his new club. It’s impossible not to conclude that somewhere Chelsea made a mistake.

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