Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has discussed the change mentality within the Reds’ squad that is encouraging the player to fight for every last point in every game, ensuring they are winning games this season they have drawn or lost in years gone by.
Despite holding a six-point advantage at the top of the Premier League and remaining unbeaten in 11 games so far, Liverpool haven’t been blowing teams away – they have been outscored by Manchester City, while Leicester and Sheffield United both have meaner defences.
Instead, Jurgen Klopp’s team have been grinding out victories, particularly in recent weeks. They have also been significantly aided in that by scoring decisive late goals, which is their just reward for the relentless determination that has been nurtured at the club.
Liverpool won more points (10) from losing positions than any other Premier League team this season, telling its own story. Seven of those points have been in the space of the last month, while the Reds have added five points to their tally by scoring in the last 10 minutes or stoppage time of games against Leicester, Manchester United and Aston Villa since the start of October.
Those late goals alone are effectively what has put them six points ahead of Manchester City and in a commanding position ahead of facing the reigning champions this coming Sunday, rather than just a single point ahead and within touching distance of the rest of the chasing pack.
“You have to go until the end, and you have to go even when you don’t physically see a positive outcome,” Wijnaldum is quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo.
“Especially at the end of the games, you just keep going because you think you can. Your body is tired and so you battle with your body like ‘no, we have to go, we have to go on’.”
Although admitting it is ‘really hard’, Wijnaldum suggested it is actually more enjoyable to win that way than if a victory comes more easily.
“The character is something we changed in the last few years,” he explained. “A couple of years ago we were struggling to win games like we win them now, but we grow and learned a lot during the years. I think it helped us, and I hope it continues until the end of the season.”