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Gini Wijnaldum: “We Are Not Playing for Statistics”

The Dutch midfielder talks about Liverpool’s solid defensive record at Anfield and why winning games is better than positive stats.

Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Group C Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Jürgen Klopp’s team have conceded only one Premier League goal at Anfield over a stretch of eleven home games, going back to last season. Liverpool have been especially boosted by the arrivals of Virgil van Dijk in January and Alisson Becker over the summer but Klopp has clearly spent a lot of time training his team into an impenetrable, attacking force.

Gini Wijnaldum has been a key player in the manager’s tactics, growing into a sure-thing on Klopp’s team sheet since his unexpected transfer from Newcastle in 2016. The Dutchman is resolute in the center of the pitch when he’s in good form. Gini may not score a boatload of goals from midfield but his tenacity for holding and regaining possession is so important for Liverpool’s game plan.

As every other Liverpool player is likely to tell you, winning is the only outcome that matters. Clean sheets tell a good story and they elevate the confidence and togetherness in the squad but apart from tallying up goal differential they don’t offer much help in climbing the league table.

Liverpool’s stellar home record is crucial to the club’s cause but it is not the cause itself. Wijnaldum reminds us that it’s only points that will push the Reds passed Manchester City.

“It is good to hear, of course,” said Wijnaldum, “but we are not playing for statistics – we are playing to win games and at the end of the season, we hope we can win something.

“Of course it is something good when you don’t concede goals because that makes it easier to win games and also suggests that we have defended well but I think you also need a little bit of luck. We saw that when we played against Man City and they had the penalty near the end but put it over the bar.

“Of course, those figures say something about our defensive qualities, particularly at home, but we have to make sure that we continue that now and go on a new run.”

Manchester City are flying high and will be tough to displace at the top. Pep Guardiola is a top manager who took over a team that had already been competing at the top of the league for several seasons. Liverpool have the personnel to beat City on their day but the season is long and it’s vital that the Reds keep securing points as it doesn’t look like Guardiola’s team will allow too many slip-ups for Liverpool to take advantage of.

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