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Virgil Van Dijk admits that stopping Erling Haaland from scoring will be far from easy when his Liverpool side host Manchester City on Sunday, but has identified a plan to make that task easier.

Van Dijk and his teammates successfully kept Haaland out in his first domestic appearance for City back in August as Liverpool beat the Blues in the Community Shield, but he has scored an incredible 20 goals in 12 appearances since then. And Van Dijk feels that initial criticism of Haaland after that blank at the start of the season was never going to stand the test of time — and he had defended Haaland himself after the game at Leicester’s King Power Stadium.

“It’s definitely not easy – he’s been on fire, you can’t say anything else,” Van Dijk said on Wednesday of stopping Haaland, in conversation with TV2.

“I remember after the Community Shield where a lot of people have been writing him off, I remember I was saying, ‘listen, this guy is going to cause so many defenders nightmares’. He’s shown it, he’s been showing a consistent level and obviously in a team like City where chances will always come.”

Asked how Liverpool will plan to stop Haaland, Van Dijk identified that cutting his supply will be key to keeping the Norwegian out – although he accepts that doing so won’t be easy either.

He explained: “We have to try to stop the balls going to him, defend at the highest level, and be at our best, and that’s what we always have to be against City and that’s not going to be any different on Sunday.

“It’s something we should look forward to, it’s definitely not me against him, it’s all of us versus all of them. It’s the outside world that creates battles, one versus one and all this stuff. We want to stop them scoring, regardless of who it is on the pitch. But we know he’s quite good.”

However, Van Dijk stopped short of saying whether he felt Haaland is the best player in the world at present, offering a diplomatic answer ahead of their meeting on Sunday.

“‘Wow, I know for a fact he’s scoring a lot of goals for fun and that’s very important to win games and that’s been showing,” Van Dijk replied. “He’s a very good goalscorer, let’s keep it that way, and hopefully we can stop him from scoring on Sunday, we need to be at our very best to do that, but like I said, it’s all of us versus all of them.”