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The Mysterious Strength of Gini Wijnaldum

The Liverpool midfielder is confident that the team can build on their performance against Chelsea.

Liverpool v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Many of us were dubious about his relevance, many still are. But, Gini Wijnaldum’s solid performances for Liverpool were quick out of the gate and, a half season into his Reds career, the Dutch midfielder is winning over hearts and minds as a vital player in Jürgen Klopp’s team.

Inside a locker full of cool head and smart distribution, Gini also has a mysterious, physical strength that allows him to tackle and recover the ball in close quarters. Sure, he had his pocket picked at least once against Chelsea, but on the whole he has an impressive ability to use his body to get on the ball.

The goals haven’t flowed like we hoped, like we hope for every player—can they, do they, will they score goals? But, Gini can, could do more and just might given more time. His well-timed header against Chelsea is his third of the season and his second header, both from open play. He’s getting in the box.

In addition to scoring against the league leaders, Wijnaldum also scored against Manchester City, showing at least to some degree that the player is up for a big occasion. But, as Gini knows, the players need to show up for all comers if they hope to remain in the top four.

“We have to continue the performance we showed,” said Wijnaldum.

“It was a good thing we did it against Chelsea but we’ve already done it against the big teams. We must now make sure we do it against the small teams. We’ve lost three games to those teams.”

Small teams are everywhere and they’ve been stealing our mojo for far too long. And what’s worse is we let them. We let them best us by often playing sluggish football against them, thus chipping away at our confidence and ultimately sealing a miserable fate. I’m talking about losing. Losing is bad. It’s not the worst. But, it’s bad. I’m going on record, here.

Liverpool showed some of that old, early-season cheek against Chelsea. And now it’s on the players to be mentally prepared, regardless of the opposition, for each and every different match from now until May.

“You can win, you can lose and you can’t always control how things go in the game,” said Gini, “but you can control your performance and we did it well.

“It was good. The last time we performed like this was against Manchester City and we did it in the first half against Southampton at home.

“We played with aggression and passion and that is a good thing to go forward but we must ensure we do it every game.”

There will be no free rides coming, a match here and there to take it easy. It has to be full-on, one hundred percent sports cliché mode from here on out. I’m talking about digging deep, here. And Klopp and company won’t need to educate the players too much about what happens when they don’t crank it up to eleven.

“We saw in January,” said Gini, “that if you are not sharp, if you don’t play how we used to play, it will cost us points.”

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