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Competition for Playing Time “Has to Be Normal at a Club like Liverpool”

Liverpool’s Gini Wijnaldum talks about the competition within the team for a place in the starting XI.

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Liverpool v Torino - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Gini Wijnaldum’s name was on the team sheet for the starting line-up in the Reds’ first Premier League match of the 2018-19 campaign against West Ham United at Anfield.

Liverpool’s midfield trio yesterday consisted of Gini, the formidable force that is Naby Keïta and the effervescent James Milner while the team’s substitute bench looked to be the strongest we have seen in years. With the summer additions of defensive midfield specialist Fabinho along with Naby who possesses all the characteristics of a box to box powerhouse and Xherdan Shaqiri who can be utilised as an attacking midfielder, Liverpool’s midfield options have never looked deeper. Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana were substitutes yesterday but are still strong contenders for a starting place in Jürgen Klopp’s team. The Liverpool collective fan-base has long bemoaned the lack of depth in our squad and players like Gini Wijnaldum believe that strength in depth should be the norm at a club of Liverpool’s stature.

“This kind of competition you have to get in a team like Liverpool,” Gini told the official LFC website after Sunday’s 4-0 win over the Hammers. “I think Manchester City and Chelsea, with the new signings that they’ve made, have it also. I think in each position there is competition and it’s good. Back in the day it was not different. You just have to do your best for the manager.

“It has to be normal at a club like Liverpool - a club that will always buy good players, even if they already have good players. It makes the competition even bigger but that suits a big club like Liverpool.”

Naby Keïta’s scene stealing performance (81 touches, 68 total passes and 88% passing accuracy) against West Ham allowed the rest of the team to do what they each do best, winning him the Reds’ Man of the Match award and according to Gini: “Naby has a lot of qualities. He can dribble, he can provide assists, he can score goals. He can keep the ball and give us - I don’t want to say time to rest - time to keep the ball as a team.”

Yesterday’s 4-0 victory was Liverpool’s 27th Premier League win over the Hammers, more than against any other team with the Reds having now scored at least four goals in each of the last four matches against West Ham. The Reds also completed their 500th win of the Premier League era in what was also their biggest opening day win in the league since 1994 when they thumped Crystal Palace 6-0. Gini is however insistent that the Reds will not allow their emphatic start to the season go to the heads and that there is still a long road ahead of them with many, many more games to come.

“It’s a good way to start the season,” he said, “but we still have 37 games left in the competition and hopefully a lot of Champions League and cup games…

“We feel that we can do something special. But feeling is one thing, doing it is the second one. We’ll work hard to achieve great things. That’s what we’re going to try.”

Here’s to our beloved LFC trying and succeeding this season. One game at a time.

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