Virgil van Dijk has been back to his imperious and world-beating best this season in a Liverpool shirt.
Having justifiably come under fire for some uncharacteristically mediocre performances last season, the Dutchman has firmly silenced his critics during the 2023/24 campaign.
Liverpool have conceded just 16 goals in 19 league games this season, four fewer than the next sternest defence, while they also have the joint most clean sheets (7) alongside Arsenal and Newcastle United.
Van Dijk has been one of the key factors in Liverpool's upturn in form, the 32-year-old having been particularly dominant in the air this term.
According to stat experts Squawka, Van Dijk had the highest success rate in aerial duels of any player in Europe's top five leagues during 2023 - of players who have 100+ attempts.
Highest win rate in Europe's big five leagues in 2023 (min 100+ attempts):
◉ All duels: 74.7% - Ezri Konsa
◉ Aerial duels: 77.1% - Virgil van Dijk
◉ Ground duels: 79.6% - Ezri Konsa
◉ Take-ons: 68.2% - Jérémy Doku
◉ True Tackle: 75% - Jean-Clair Todibo https://t.co/i8uGUAiAK8
— Squawka (@Squawka) December 31, 2023
Somehow, despite being unmatched in the air, Van Dijk is yet to score a header for the Reds this season, only managing a volleyed strike against Sheffield United.
However, he has won 81 defensive duels in the Premier League during 2023/24, an average of over four per game.
The Dutch colossus was one of two Liverpool players named in Opta's Team of the Season for the first half of the Premier League campaign as he continues to outshine the division's best defenders.
The centre-back was not dribbled past during the entirety of the 2018/19 Premier League season and is on course to repeat that remarkable feat at present.
Van Dijk will be hopeful of picking up from where he left off in the new year, his form critical to the Reds.