Marko Arnautovic ‘not afraid’ of £75m defender Virgil van Dijk as West Ham prepare for Liverpool clash

Marko Arnautovic is enjoying a productive run for West Ham (Picture: Getty)West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic insists he is ‘not afraid’ of Virgil van Dijk and is ready to test himself against Liverpool’s £75m defender.

Van Dijk joined the Reds in January from Southampton in a deal that eclipsed the £50m Manchester City spent on Kyle Walker last summer.

Liverpool are enjoying a fine run and thrashed Porto 5-0 in the Champions League last week to put one foot in the draw for the quarter-finals.

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But Arnautovic, who has scored eight goals this season, will do everything he can to ensure Liverpool – and Van Dijk – endure a difficult afternoon on Saturday.

‘I’m a football player and I have respect for every opponent, every defender and every team, but I’m not afraid of anyone and I’m not afraid to take them on and to make things happen,’ he told West Ham’s official website.

‘I’m fit and I will do my best like I always do. I played at Anfield twice when I was with Stoke and it’s a hard place to go, we all know that Liverpool is one of the best teams in the Premier League.

The Austrian has scored seven goals in his last 11 games (Picture: Getty)‘But I think we have also done well in the last few games and you can always make something happen. It’s not going to be easy, as it’s another Premier League game and we know football can be crazy.

‘It’s going to be hard, but they are all hard and we will go there and try to take something out of the game.

‘It doesn’t motivate me only because it is against one of the top teams, as I try to do my best to be at my maximum in every game but, in this game, we need not just one man to perform, but all eleven men to perform.’

West Ham ensured a dismal start to the 2017-18 campaign under Slaven Bilic but results have picked up since David Moyes was appointed manager in November.

Andreas Christensen would keep Virgil van Dijk out of the Chelsea team, says Frank Lampard

Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool last month in a world-record deal for a defender (Picture: Getty)Frank Lampard insists Andreas Christensen would still be in the Chelsea side even if Antonio Conte had spent a world-record sum on Virgil van Dijk.

Dutch defender Van Dijk was linked with a number of clubs last summer – including Chelsea – but he eventually joined Liverpool in January for £75million, a record fee for a defender.

Lampard was coming to the end of his career at Stamford Bridge when Christensen joined the club’s academy as a teenager. The Chelsea legend says he always knew Christensen had what it takes to develop into a key player for the Blues.

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Speaking to the Evening Standard, Lampard said: ‘Even if Van Dijk had come in, the player Christensen is, he’d have handled anything.

‘You put a team around those players even at his age. He wouldn’t have had a problem whoever they signed.

‘I trained with him a fair bit when I was still there. We were all very aware of his abilities. He came over to join in senior sessions when he was 16 and was very impressive.

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Andreas Christensen has developed into a key player for Antonio Conte (Picture: Getty)‘Some young players were not ready for the increase in speed of the game, to make decisions and choices on the ball when they were invited to join in.

‘But even at that young age you could see he had a composure and an awareness about him that made him fit straight in.’

After joining Chelsea’s academy at the age of 15, Christensen was sent on loan to Borussia Monchengladbach and spent two productive years at the German club.

He broke into the Chelsea first-team at the start of the current campaign and has not looked back since, replacing David Luiz as the club’s first-choice centre back.

Frank Lampard has heaped praise on the young defender (Picture: Getty)More: Football

‘Chelsea take a lot of criticism for loaning players out but Andreas is a perfect example of how it’s done right,’ former England midfielder Lampard added.

‘It is massively important for the academy and the young players to see Christensen in the first team now. He is a great example for everyone.

‘The young players can learn from his application. He has shown if you do things right, apply yourself, you will get your chance.’

MORE: Chelsea send officials to watch Ligue 1 ace Jean-Michael Seri

Liverpool fans love Virgil van Dijk’s reaction to hearing Manchester United’s defeat to Newcastle

Virgil van Dijk couldn’t hide his delight after hearing Manchester United’s defeat. (LFCTV)Virgil van Dijk couldn’t hide his delight after hearing about Manchester United‘s defeat to Newcastle United on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho‘s side were beaten 1-0 at St James’ Park, which gave Liverpool the opportunity to close the gap on second place.

And Jurgen Klopp’s side seized their chance as goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah sealed a 2-0 win over Southampton.

The victory means Liverpool are now only two points behind United, and Klopp’s side could potentially overtake their rivals with a win at Old Trafford next month.

Van Dijk, however, had not known United’s latest setback before he faced his former club in Sunday’s final Premier League fixture.

And when told about the result after Liverpool’s win, the Dutch centre-back looked pretty pleased.

VAN DIJK’S INTERVIEW

Interviewer: Were you aware of Manchester United’s result, did that put any added pressure on getting three points today?

Van Dijk: What did they do?

Interviewer: They got beat.

Van Dijk: Did they? Oh… unlucky. I didn’t know, it’s good for us, obviously.

Van Dijk’s interview clearly went down with Liverpool fans, who couldn’t get enough of the defender’s reaction to United’s loss at St James’ Park.

Just seen VVD reaction when he found out united lost. Absolutely epic, I love him just for that 😂👌— liana busby (@libuzbusby) February 11, 2018

@AnfieldEdition @adamgottalent The spirit of Lucas lives on!— VorsprungdurchJürgen (@happydobbin44) February 11, 2018

Vvd unlucky > lucas unlucky

#LFC— My Surname is Khan™ (@ejaz_k) February 12, 2018

VVD being smug is my fave thing, the smirks when he was booed today, laughing when he turned into a left winger for… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…— n (@heytaarnold) February 11, 2018

Vvd unlucky scum lost 😆😆😆— mighty kopites 1892 (@AFGHAN1972) February 11, 2018

That video of Van Dijk when he finds out Man U lost is the best thing ever 😂😂😂😂😂 “unluckaaaay”— Rebecca (@rebecca_Jxx) February 12, 2018

@AnfieldEdition HAHAHAHA— TMS” 🇪🇬 (@TikkaMohSalah) February 11, 2018

@AnfieldEdition Laddddd— 🔴🇫🇮 (@PaceManMane) February 11, 2018

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Virgil van Dijk sends message to Southampton boo boys after Liverpool win

The Dutch defender says fans don’t know what really happened last summer (Picture: Getty)Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk says he enjoyed his return to Southampton despite being booed throughout Sunday’s match as his new club beat his old team at St Mary’s.

The Dutch defender became the most expensive defender in the world after Southampton finally sanctioned his £75 million move to Anfield in January, and he looked the part as he kept a clean sheet at his old stomping ground.

Liverpool went ahead early on through Roberto Firmino and doubled their lead just before the break thanks to Mohamed Salah, and always looked comfortable from that moment.

Van Dijk accidentally went into the home dressing room when he arrived at St Mary’s (Picture: Getty)The match marked Van Dijk’s first return to St Mary’s since leaving the club and he felt the hostile reception he received was unwarranted, though enjoyed Liverpool’s performance – and result – regardless.

He told Sky Sports after the match: ‘I enjoyed it a lot. I just focused on the game. I enjoyed being back, I have a lot of good memories here.

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‘Unfortunately they are not in a good position right now, but as a Liverpool player I’m happy with the win. You can’t do anything about the reception, I just did my own thing.’

He expanded further to the BBC, saying: ‘You just enjoy it. It’s the only thing I think you can do. I think it is a bit unfair because no-one really knows what happened over the summer and the last few months but I just kept my head down and enjoyed it.

Salah and Firmino combined twice to score both Liverpool’s goals against Saints (Picture: Getty)‘I think we should have scored more. We deserved the win but we should have made it a bit easier for ourselves.

On whether it hurts to see Southampton – who dropped into the relegation zone – struggle, he added: ‘Definitely. I have a lot of good friends here, I care for the club. It is difficult to get out of the relegation zone but they have quality players.’

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Jurgen Klopp to warn Virgil van Dijk over hostile atmosphere at Southampton

Jurgen Klopp’s side travel to Southampton this weekend (Getty)Jurgen Klopp plans to warn Virgil van Dijk to expect a hostile atmosphere at St.Mary’s at weekend when Liverpool take on Southampton on Sunday.

Van Dijk joined Liverpool in January for £75million from Southampton and it will be the defender’s first appearance back at St. Mary’s since his move.

‘I don’t think anyone at Southampton say we’ve stolen him or something,’ Klopp said. ‘It was a very public deal and the numbers are 100 percent right so maybe they are really happy and say ‘thank you for all the money we have now’.

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‘We are all human beings we are all influenced by circumstances. For him it will not be a normal game, how can it be? For him it was a special story [playing for Southampton], most of the time really positive.

‘They have really good centre halves, there are really good players there. For them it’s perfect business if you want to see if like that.’

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Van Dijk joined Liverpool for a club-record fee from Southampton in January (Getty)Klopp guided his side a 3-0 win in the Premier League over Southampton back in November, and while he branded the upcoming clash as a ‘special’ game, he insisted Liverpool will be going about their business as usual.

‘It’s how football fans are. They want to disturb everything what we will try to do,’ Klopp added. ‘I will for sure talk to Virgil about it before.

‘Probably they will whistle. Is it nice? I don’t think so. Will it have influence? I don’t think so. But we cannot make it too big.

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‘It’s quite special, that’s all. We will think much more about the football and not how can we avoid different situations from outside. We have to accept how it is. Loud – not nice maybe – but still we have to play football.’

After Liverpool’s fixture with Southampton on February 11, they travel to Portugal on February 14 to take on Porto in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie.

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MORE: Carragher believes the Liverpool are capable of Champions League glory

Antonio Conte unhappy over Chelsea’s failure to sign Alexis Sanchez and Virgil van Dijk

‘Now we have to struggle to fight for a Champions League place – that is top,’ said the Chelsea manager.

‘We must be realistic. We must be strong to accept this type of situation.

‘Then, in the future, if there is the possibility, you have to try to buy only two or three players – not eight players.

Conte wanted Leonardo Bonucci instead of Antonio Rudiger. (AFP/Getty Images)‘Don’t forget, this summer, we brought in eight players and spent a lot less than other teams who bought only two or three.

‘We have to create a basis; we have to build something important. To do this, you must have 15 or 16 players. In the summer, we changed eight players.

‘That means you don’t have a basis, a great foundation. We must have great patience to understand the moment.’

Harry Kane hits back at Virgil van Dijk over penalty dive claim

Harry Kane has been accused of diving by Virgil van Dijk. (Reuters)Harry Kane has hit back after Virgil van Dijk accused the striker of diving to win a penalty in Liverpool‘s 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Sunday.

In a thrilling match at Anfield, Kane had the chance to put Spurs ahead after he was brought down by Loris Karius inside Liverpool’s area.

Kane was standing in an offside position when he received the pass but squandered the opportunity from the spot as he struck the penalty straight at Karius.

Mohamed Salah then put Liverpool ahead with a fine solo effort in injury time but Kane netted a last-gasp equaliser from the spot after another controversial penalty decision involving Van Dijk and Erik Lamela.

Van Dijk is adamant that Kane attempted to deceive referee Jon Moss with the first penalty call.

Karius caught Kane to give Tottenham their first penalty. (EPA)‘I think it is a dive,’ said the Liverpool defender.

‘You see him [Kane] diving clearly and no one is talking about it but I think it is a dive.’

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Kane’s first penalty was saved by Karius. (PA Wire)But when asked if Karius had made contact with him, Kane replied: ‘Yeah.

‘He has dived, he has got in the way and I’m a player, I’m not going to jump out of the way because it’s football.

‘I’ve definitely felt contact and I’ve gone down.’

When asked about Tottenham’s second penalty, Kane replied: ‘I thought the linesman showed amazing character to give that because a lot happened for the first one about the linesman so to give that penalty was massive and it was a penalty.’

Jurgen Klopp takes swipe at Jamie Carragher after Virgil van Dijk weight claims

Klopp hit out at Carragher (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp has hit back at Jamie Carragher for his comments around Virgil van Dijk’s weight and insists that the Liverpool legend needs to ‘lose a little bit of weight’ rather than his player.

Klopp rested Van Dijk for the 3-0 win over Huddersfield due to physical reasons, which prompted Carragher to claim that the former Southampton man needed to shift some timber.

‘I think it will prove to be a great signing,’ Carragher told Sky Sports. ‘But he hasn’t hit the ground running.

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Van Dijk has not had the perfect start (Picture: AFP/Getty)‘I think he needs to get fit and lose a bit of weight. He actually looks too big.

‘Maybe that’s to do with not having a pre-season, not playing too many games for Southampton.’

However, Klopp disagreed that Van Dijk – who arrived in January in a world-record £75million deal – needed to lose weight and instead took a swipe at Carragher for his own physique.

When asked what his thoughts were on Carragher’s comments he replied: ‘Nothing. Wow.

‘I’m sure Jamie needs to lose a little bit of weight.

‘I know it’s not the case for Virgil. He’s a big tall lad that’s how it is. We have the best nutrition department – no one has come to me and said that.

Carragher was criticised by Klopp (Picture: Getty)‘Being fit means having more muscle than anything else. It’s not an issue.’

While Klopp has been happy with Van Dijk’s start at Anfield, he admitted that he doesn’t expect to see the best of the Dutchman until next season.

‘Very happy,’ he added. ‘There’s a few ups and downs but we will see Van Dijk at his best after the summer.

‘We don’t have to wait until then, so we got him in. The defending style of our defending is different to Southampton, that’s why it makes sense that you get used to it.

Van Dijk was rested against Huddersfield (Picture: Getty)‘For example, Everton was outstandingly good. Swansea was good, defensively, and he was involved in the two biggest chances we had.

‘West Brom was a bad game for the whole team and then we thought it makes sense to rotate.

‘It’s like expected to be honest, completely normal. There’s a lot to do, a lot to work on but the start is absolutely good.’

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Jamie Carragher tells Virgil van Dijk to ‘lose weight’ after £75m Liverpool transfer

Does van Dijk need to lose weight? (Picture: Getty Images)Jamie Carragher has questioned Virgil van Dijk’s physical condition, despite the Dutch ace joining Liverpool in a world-record £75million deal at the beginning of January.

The Reds legend believes the former Southampton star looks slightly out of shape and suggested that he loses ‘a bit of weight’.

Van Dijk became the world’s most expensive defender in an eye-watering move to Anfield and scored on his debut in the FA Cup against Everton, however, his form dipped in back-to-back defeats to Swansea and West Brom.

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Carragher wants him to lose weight (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp opted to drop the centre-back for Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Huddersfield, and explained that Van Dijk still needed to adapt physically to playing for his team.

Carragher agreed with the German tactician’s assessment and is convinced that a lack of pre-season has held the 26-year-old back in terms of reaching his optimum physical state.

And although he’s convinced Van Dijk will come good in the long-run, Carragher wants him to shift a few pounds in the meantime.

‘I think it will prove to be a great signing,’ Carragher told Sky Sports. ‘But he hasn’t hit the ground running.

Van Dijk has not had the perfect start (Picture: AFP/Getty)‘I think he needs to get fit and lose a bit of weight. He actually looks too big.

‘Maybe that’s to do with not having a pre-season, not playing too many games for Southampton.’

Van Dijk had only made 11 starts for Southampton before his switch to Liverpool and Klopp will hope he can return to full fitness soon.

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Jurgen Klopp explains why Virgil van Dijk is missing from Liverpool team vs Huddersfield

Virgil van Dijk was missing from Liverpool’s team at Huddersfield (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp has explained why Virgil van Dijk was not named in his starting XI to face Huddersfield.

Van Dijk completed a club-record £75million move to Anfield earlier this month and the 26-year-old defender has made three appearances for Reds since arriving on Merseyside.

The Dutchman’s only Premier League appearance for Liverpool came away at Swansea last week and Klopp’s men went on to lose the clash 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip start in central defence at Huddersfield on Tuesday evening, while Van Dijk has to settle for a place on the bench.

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Asked why Van Dijk was not named in his starting XI, Klopp told BT Sport‘s Des Kelly: ‘Rotation.

On his decision to bring James Milner back into the fold, Klopp joked: ‘Milner is only playing because we had to play one Yorkshireman here – I think one must play tonight!’

Jurgen Klopp has decided to rest Virgil van Dijk at Huddersfield (Picture: Getty)

David Wagner has made several changes to his side (Picture: Getty)David Wagner confirmed that he wanted ‘fresh legs’ in his team to face Liverpool.

‘I think for sure both teams are not in the best run at the moment, but it is up to us to make the best of it,’ Wagner said.

‘I don’t know how many changes we have made, but we wanted some fresh legs.

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‘We will see if it is a good time to play Liverpool or not. I’ll answer after the game. Neither team have been on a good run. Normally he knows everything about me. We will see if we have surprised him.

‘We have made changes. We wanted fresh legs, power, pace in it.’