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Wijnaldum: Reds never lost faith in firepower


Finding form: Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum
Finding form: Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum

By Carl Markham

Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum insists Liverpool never lost their belief in their attacking verve despite growing scrutiny of their struggles.

After four draws in five matches, the Reds returned to top form with their biggest win in almost 12 months with a comprehensive 5-0 demolition of Watford.

It was evidence, if any were needed, that they are still capable of blowing away opponents and provided the shot in the arm fans needed, even if Wijnaldum said Jurgen Klopp's side never doubted their abilities.

"To be fair, I always have that feeling that it will click but in some games it clicks better than others," said the Holland midfielder.

"Against Watford it clicked well. Sunday (in the goalless draw at Manchester United) it didn't so well, we started well but didn't finish the game good.

"The belief is always there. We just have to make sure that it does click."

Victory kept Liverpool one point ahead of Manchester City and top of the Premier League with 10 matches remaining.

They now head to Goodison Park for the Merseyside derby on Sunday, by which time they may have been overtaken by City who go to Bournemouth 24 hours earlier.

Everton eased some of the growing pressure on manager Marco Silva with Tuesday's 3-0 win over a poor Cardiff side, only their fourth league victory since their added-time defeat at Anfield on December 2.

Despite the Toffees' poor run, Wijnaldum does not expect an easy time when they make the short trip across Stanley Park.

"I expect it's going to be a big fight. It was a good game last time we played them. They were really good, better than all the times I'd played them before," he said.

"I don't expect them to be less motivated than they were before. I think it's going to be a difficult game.

"Every game is different. They can have a bad run and something can change and make them good again."

The Dutchman is relishing the hostile welcome they are assured on Sunday.

"Yeah, it's nice. You use it to spur you on. It's great to win there. My first year we won there," he added.

"In the derby, their fans expect a lot from the players, they will support the players on the pitch.

"I don't think the last couple of games count, because of the atmosphere, the fans, the way everyone hypes this game.

"It's a totally different atmosphere to a normal game, but we go there to play football and to hopefully enjoy it."

Meanwhile, Pablo Zabaleta expects Manchester City and Liverpool's title battle to go to the wire - and is hoping his old club can prevail.

City kept up the pressure on the Premier League leaders as they claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Zabaleta's current side West Ham on Wednesday.

Sergio Aguero's second-half penalty proved the difference between the two sides at the Etihad Stadium, ensuring quadruple-chasing City stayed within a point of the Merseysiders.

Zabaleta, who won two league crowns with City, said: "It looks like it will be between City and Liverpool until the end.

"I know it is going to be tough. Liverpool seem like they are also really focused on the Premier League and they won 5-0 against Watford. But obviously I wish for Manchester City to win.

"It is always special to come back to the Etihad. I wish them all the best until the end of the season. There are still three big competitions to play for and I hope they can win all of them."

Former City right-back Zabaleta was given a huge ovation as he appeared as a second-half substitute, while the club's former manager, Manuel Pellegrini, was also given a good hand.

City were deserved victors having dominated play. They racked up 20 attempts on goal compared to West Ham's two.

Yet the Hammers' dogged defending frustrated them and it was not until the introduction of Bernardo Silva off the bench they made the breakthrough.

The Portuguese won a penalty just before the hour and Aguero took advantage from the spot.

Belfast Telegraph


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