Virgil van Dijk questioned the standard of refereeing during Liverpool’s defeat to West Ham, claiming “no one knows exactly what is allowed”.
The Reds saw their 25-game unbeaten run across all competitions – their joint-longest streak since joining the Football League in 1893 – come to end on Sunday.
Alisson, under pressure from Angelo Ogbonna, gifted the lead to the Hammers – who had not beaten Liverpool in 10 previous top-flight attempts – in contentious fashion before Trent Alexander-Arnold levelled for the hosts.
Pablo Fornals restored West Ham’s lead and Kurt Zouma all but sealed victory when he headed home as Jurgen Klopp’s team conceded twice from corners in a single Premier League game for the first time since August 2017.
Despite substitute Divock Origi’s late goal, David Moyes’ side managed to hold on for the win, but Van Dijk’s focus post-match was on the officiating.
“Listen, the goal counts, it stands,” Van Dijk responded to Sky Sports after the game.
“I don’t know exactly what happens but I saw the whole time that Ali was being man-marked and stuff, so with the rules nowadays no one knows exactly what is allowed, yes or no, sometimes they give it and sometimes they don’t and today counts.
“But what I said, there was nothing wrong. Even after that we still had almost the whole game to come back from it, but obviously we were disappointed to come 1-0 down.”
Asked whether Liverpool could do more to protect Alisson from set-pieces, the centre-back responded: “Obviously you can’t because the striker in this case was standing next to him, so you can’t push him away because they might give a penalty, so it’s just on the officials to see if it’s a foul, yes or no.
“It could have been a foul but what can you do now after the game? You can’t change it and what I said, we still had the whole game to come back.”
9 – Only Daniel Sturridge (10) has scored more Premier League goals as a substitute for Liverpool than Divock Origi (nine), with today his first Premier League goal since July 2020 against Newcastle, 469 days ago. Lifeline? #WHULIV pic.twitter.com/b1dFKfnJT1
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 7, 2021
While Van Dijk was left confused by the refereeing decisions, he conceded the Reds were not good enough as he implored for improvements after the international break.
“We played OK, I think in moments played well,” he continued. We tried to find the spaces in between their lines and obviously they defend well.
“We had to be patient and scored the deserved equaliser, in my opinion, then second half we were a bit too rash maybe. We wanted maybe to score the 2-1 a bit too much.
“Obviously we just focus on the next game but now it’s the international break.
“Everyone is going away so it’s just making sure that you recover well, play well, play for your country and come back fresh and healthy and clear-minded for a very tough game against Arsenal. That’s the only thing we can do.”