The Reds have not made the best start to their season and their defenders have largely underperformed in recent weeks.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been particularly criticized for his poor defending but McAvennie believes that Van Dijk also needs to take the blame.
The Dutchman has established himself as one of the best defenders in the world following his £75 million move from Southampton in 2018.
He has been regarded by many as one of the greatest centre-backs in the history of the Premier League but he has been quite poor this campaign.
McAvennie has suggested that Alexander-Arnold consistently gets caught out by the opposition but is not getting bailed out by centre-backs as he used to be.
He referenced Liverpool's 2-1 win over Ajax at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League on September 14 where Mohammed Kudus scored for the visitors.
He told Football Insider:
“Trent Alexander-Arnold keeps getting caught out. The Ajax player makes a run in behind and people are pointing the finger at Trent. The centre-half should see that. Instead of covering for their right-back, they’re running back to goal."
McAvennie has claimed that Van Dijk used to come forward to break down opponent attacks earlier. However, he is running backwards nowadays, allowing further space. He added:
“Alexander-Arnold is trouble when he goes forward. Previously he could get away with it because Van Dijk was coming out and shutting everything down – but he’s not doing that yet this season. That one last night, I think that could have been stopped. He must have seen the square ball – he’s one of the quickest players I’ve seen.”
Liverpool need Virgil van Dijk at his best
Liverpool's shaky start to their season can be largely attributed to their poor defensive showings.
Virgil van Dijk is the leader of the Liverpool backline but the Dutchman has clearly not been at his best so far this campaign. His mistakes have arguably cost the team against Fulham, Crystal Palace, and Manchester United.
Injuries to Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip have also not helped, but things could improve with the latter coming back from a layoff.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was never known for his defensive attributes but has been quite abysmal this campaign.
Andrew Robertson has also endured a difficult campaign so far and faces the danger of Kostas Tsimikas potentially replacing him as first-choice left-back.
Van Dijk is pretty much the orchestrator of the Liverpool backline and he needs to rediscover his best form if the Merseysiders have to improve defensively
Liverpool are seventh in the Premier League table after winning just two out of their six matches so far. They will next face Brighton & Hove Albion at home on October 1.