Van Dijk first defender in SIX years to win PL Player of Month

Virgil van Dijk has been named Premier League
Player of the Month for December, in doing so becoming the first defender to scoop the prestigious award for six years.
Astonishingly, the monthly honour was last picked up by a defender in March of 2013, when Tottenham's Belgian centre half Jan Vertonghen was deemed to have bettered his Premier League peers.
Dutchman Van Dijk was a colossus for Liverpool as the season entered the festive period, keeping a water-tight back line as the Reds powered to the top of the Premier League table with a clear points advantage.
Liverpool have conceded just 10 goals so far this season - the fewest in the league.
Chelsea fall second with 16 goals conceded, while nearest title rivals Manchester City have shipped 17.
It was only until the recent tie with City at the Etihad on January 3 that Liverpool and Van Dijk experienced their first domestic loss of the campaign - in a hard-fought thriller which ended 2-1 in favour of Pep Guardiola's side.
Upon receiving the award Van Dijk was informed he was the first defensive recipient for six years - to which he admitted surprise. The 27-year-old is, however, confident he can perform to an even higher level.
VAN DIJK IN NUMBERS
Premier League games: 21
Clean sheets: 11
 
Goals: 1
Assists: 1
Champions League games: 6
Clean sheets: 2
 
Figures taken from the current 2018/19 season.
 
'I didn't know that but I'm very proud to win this,' he told the Premier League, upon receiving the trophy at Liverpool's Melwood training base.
'All credit to everyone that helped me win it and the fans who have been supporting me. December was a great month and hopefully we can keep going.
'It was a fantastic month for all of us, there were some great games. I enjoyed every bit of it. The Arsenal game was a great game to play in – it was obviously a fantastic win
'I've improved in every aspect of my game but there is still so much to learn and to get better at,' he said ahead of Liverpool's Saturday league meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion.
'I'm working every day to get to where I want to be – I want to get the maximum out of myself. That's [done] by working every day and making sure that you give everything for the team and for your club.'
It was a double hit of honours for Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp picking up the Manager of the Month award.
The duo posed together for photographs, while Klopp admitted that December was as tough as it was success-laden.
'It's nice, the icing on the cake,' said the German. 'It was a very successful but difficult month.
'Each game felt like the most important one of the season. It was unbelievable. The intensity was massive but that's what made it a special month.' 
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