Despite taking ten shots to the Blues six, Liverpool ultimately had to settle for a point in yesterday’s frustrating Premier League clash. With the 231st Merseyside Derby having been a mere two half days after the Reds thrilling Champions League semi-final win over Manchester City, Jürgen Klopp made several changes to the starting 11 and Georginio Wijnaldum started in a new role as a number 6.
Both Wijnaldum and Virgil van Dijk spoke with LiverpoolFC.com after yesterday’s match and agreed that they were happy with the Reds maintaining a clean sheet but after dominating possession for most of the game they were ultimately not that happy with playing to a draw.
Wijnaldum completed 91 touches in midfield yesterday and had a 93.8% passing rate, which was more than any other player on the pitch and was pleased with his own performance in his new role, saying:
Sometimes you have those kinds of days. It was a good day and everything went well but I’ve also had a few games where it didn’t work, so I just tried to enjoy it. The manager told me the team needed me as a footballer and that’s what I tried to do. It was a different position [for me] but I can play there and I think it went well.
Liverpool remain on course to finish in the Top 4 of the Premier League and after securing a point yesterday are currently in third place on the PL table. Wijnaldum admitted that the team came close to losing towards the end and he was happy that they managed to keep their clean sheet.
I think it was tough in the beginning, the first couple of minutes, because they were pressing, everything you might expect. But after that I thought we were the better team, we controlled the game with quick passes and we created a few chances. That’s how we continued in the second half but as soon as we stopped playing football they were the better team, they created a few chances from crosses and they were really dangerous. We almost lost the game and in the end we have to be really happy that we didn’t lose the game.
Van Dijk shared a similar sentiment and while he was not thrilled with the Reds overall performance, he too was at the very least pleased to have maintained a clean sheet.
It’s pretty hard to come here anyway, but three days after the Champions League game it’s tough. We were sloppy, obviously we had our moments but it was hard. It was a tough pitch but I’m only happy with the clean sheet. For the rest we need to recover well and prepare for Tuesday.
Sometimes we need to play better, myself as well, but you can’t deny that some legs are a bit tired. But it’s part of the game and I’m happy that we kept a clean sheet but that’s the only thing. Maybe in one or two moments we were a bit lucky but sometimes you need that as well.
In the first half we had our moments but in the second half it wasn’t good enough so we need to learn from it and be ready for Tuesday.
Liverpool will have turned their focus to the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Manchester City immediately after yesterday’s game, and even though they have a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead, van Dijk doesn’t feel that the team should go to the Etihad with a largely defensive mindset.
We are going to discuss it over the next couple of days but I think we need to do our own thing. We don’t need to go there and think we need to defend, we just need to play our game as we did in the first half against them. It’s going to be a very hard game but I’m looking forward to it.
So are we Virgil, so are we.