Georginio Wijnaldum has nothing to fear from Naby Keita and Fabinho

Carl Markham 13/08/2018
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Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum believes increased competition within the squad means they have the quality to compete with Premier League defending champions Manchester City.

The Reds’ comfortable 4-0 over West Ham, their biggest opening day Anfield victory since 1932, was achieved with only two of their four new summer arrivals in the starting line-up.

Midfielder Naby Keita had a far more influential game than £65million goalkeeper Alisson Becker while Xherdan Shaqiri was given just eight minutes and Fabinho never got off the bench.

Adam Lallana likewise was not given any pitch time and club captain Jordan Henderson got just 20 minutes and still the Reds cruised to victory.

“I think we have the quality to compete with them (City) but I also thought we had the quality last season,” said Wijnaldum.

“If City are going to play like they did last season then it will be really hard because they only lost two games and a few draws.

“If you want to compete with them you can barely drop points. That’s really difficult but something we look forward to because you want to compete with the others and City are one of the best so we will go for it.”

Natural red: Naby Keita.

Natural red: Naby Keita.

Wijnaldum was given the holding role in Henderson’s absence and performed well but the three-man midfield Jurgen Klopp put out was arguably not his first choice.

The options now available to the manager mean players have to be on top of their games if they want to keep their place.

“I always want to play. I think you have to get that kind of competition in a team like Liverpool,” added the Holland international.

“I think Manchester City and Chelsea, with the new signings that they’ve made, have it also.

“I think each position there is competition and it’s good at Liverpool.

“Back in the day it was not different. If you see that there’s a player (in your position) and you play for a big team, you just have to do your best for the manager.

“I always try to perform and not because you have players on the bench or on the pitch that can play in your position.

“I think it’s quite normal. It has to be normal at a club like Liverpool – a club that will always buy players, even if they already have good players.”

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'Unbelievably hard' to win Premier League title, says Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

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Klopp has warned against raising expectations too high for Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp has played down suggestions that Liverpool are title challengers after a busy transfer window and a 4-0 win over West Ham in their Premier League opener.

“This season will again be unbelievably hard,” the German said.

“West Ham will play a good season but they are not United or City. They know that, we know that, and we have to be ready.

See the Liverpool manager’s reaction to his side’s win in our video below.

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Jurgen Klopp delighted but warns the task will only get tougher for Liverpool

Andy Hampson 12/08/2018
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Jurgen Klopp striker Sadio Mané after a fine display against West Ham.

Jurgen Klopp was pleased with Liverpool‘s convincing start to the season, but warned there will be much tougher tests ahead.

The Reds underlined their Premier League title credentials with a comprehensive 4-0 defeat of West Ham in their first game at Anfield.

Klopp’s side have been tipped by many as the side most likely to challenge Manchester City for the crown, but the Liverpool manager is not getting carried away with one result.

The German said: “We know about our expectations and we realise there is a really positive atmosphere around us in the pre-season. That is good that people are positive, but this season will be unbelievably hard.

“We cannot be anything different than the challenger because we haven’t won anything since I came in. We have to invest more, we have to fight more, we have to create more. That’s the only thing we expect from ourselves. We will see where it leads to.

“West Ham will play, for sure, a good season but they are not the Uniteds, the Citys. We know that and we have to be ready week-in, week-out for all the challenges.”

Liverpool eased to victory with Sadio Mane scoring twice between efforts from Mohamed Salah and substitute Daniel Sturridge.

West Ham offered little as the hosts dominated, but Klopp was reluctant to describe the performance as perfect.

He said: “It’s a very good start, for sure. It is a start – not perfect but really good. Nobody knows exactly how valuable or worthy a pre-season is. You see things in pre-season, but it’s different. The Premier League is a proper fight and you hope, as a manager, your team is ready. You cannot test before you have the test.  For that it was a clear start, it was good.”

New West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini admitted his team were outplayed, although he pointed out, with some justification, that Mane’s second goal could have been ruled out for offside.

The former Manchester City manager said: “It was a tough game before the game, during the game and after the game.

“We knew we played against one of the best teams in the Premier League. They reached the final of the Champions League and bought a lot of new players. We knew it was going to be difficult.

“I think Liverpool played better than us. They deserved to win. When you lose 4-0 you cannot have excuses. But I think a couple of balls decided the score. In the first half we had two or three clear chances to make it 1-1 and we conceded the second goal in the last second of the period.

“The after that a clear offside goal decided the game and they had a lot of confidence to play at 4-0. I am not complaining. Liverpool played well, but I don’t think the difference was four goals.”

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