Competition for places pushing Gini Wijnaldum to best Liverpool form

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Gini Wijnaldum says the battle for starting places in Liverpool’s midfield can only be a good thing, as the Reds fight on all fronts this season.

There has been so much to admire about Liverpool’s campaign to date, with Jurgen Klopp‘s side unbeaten and top of the Premier League, having dropped just six points in 17 games.

On top of that, they have progressed from a tough Champions League group that included Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli, with a mouthwatering clash with Bayern Munich to look forward to.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the season has been the squad depth Klopp has built, particularly in the middle of the park.

The Liverpool manager now has five strong options in that area—six if you include Xherdan Shaqiri—and it has allowed him to rotate effectively.

Wijnaldum has been the Reds’ most consistent midfielder in 2018/19, but that doesn’t mean he is a guaranteed starter every week.

While some players may find that frustrating, the Dutchman has told Liverpoolfc.com that he relishes the competition for places.

“It’s always good if you have competition in one position because that means you have to perform to stay in the team.

“But I think that has to be normal at a club like Liverpool because it’s a top team, one of the biggest teams in England, so Liverpool will always sign good players and that means there will always be competition in the team.

“That makes players even better – not only because you have an ‘opponent’ in your position, but also because you play and train against good team-mates, so it makes you automatically a better player.”

Liverpool now have a midfield that can successfully juggle both Premier League and Champions League commitments, without fear of fatigue coming into play.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 16, 2018: Liverpool's Naby Keita during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp will continue to juggle Wijnaldum with Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Naby Keita, as they search for league glory and going one better than last season’s memorable European run.

The Dutch and Brazil internationals have been an impressive pairing of late, and Wijnaldum says playing alongside Fabinho is a pleasure—and that there’s more to come from each player in turn.

“I like to play with him, [like] all of the midfielders.
“And I think he can do even better – I think all of us can do even better.

“It’s always difficult if you play for another team that didn’t play the way we play, so when you come here you have to settle in. That’s not always easy and I think he did it quite well. Step by step he learned more about the way of playing.”

Fabinho (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wijnaldum is expected to start away to Wolves on Friday night, having shone alongside Fabinho in last Sunday’s 3-1 win over Man United.

Keita may then adopt the left-sided role that he has impressed in recently, as Klopp retains his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

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