Liverpool have got their spark back but face 'big fight' on derby day – Wijnaldum
The Premier League leaders were on song as they battered Watford 5-0 at Anfield on Wednesday to stay top of the table
Gini Wijnaldum believes Liverpool were back to the best in thrashing Watford – but expects another “big fight” when the Premier League leaders visit Everton this weekend.
The Reds retained their place at the top of the table with a resounding, and much-needed, 5-0 success against the Hornets at Anfield on Wednesday night. Braces from Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk, and a Divock Origi strike, gave Jurgen Klopp’s side their biggest win of the campaign so far.
Their performance was in stark contrast to the lethargic, error-strewn display they had produced in their last game, away at Manchester United last Sunday. “Exactly the game we wanted,” said Klopp afterwards.
Wijnaldum agreed with his manager’s assessment.
Asked if the spark was back in Liverpool’s play, the Dutchman replied. “Yeah. We started quite aggressively, tried to attack and get a lot of bodies in the box, we tried to counter-press when we lost the ball, and then play football.
“In the end, the result is five goals. It was a good evening!”
Liverpool had been criticised in the wake of the United game, accused of being one-paced, one-dimensional and lacking creativity after successive goalless draws.
“I think the reaction was only because of the season United had, which was not that great,” Wijnaldum said. “If you collect a point away from home at Manchester United, then normally it’s a good result.
“But the situation they have had, the way the game goes, everybody already thought that Liverpool had to win, especially with the substitutions in the first half. Everybody said as if it was an easy game and Liverpool should win, but it doesn’t work like that.”
Next up for Klopp’s side is another testing away trip, this time to Goodison Park. How Everton, their oldest rivals, would love to put a dent in the Reds’ championship hopes.
“What do I expect?” smiled Wijnaldum. “I expect it’s going to be a big fight.
“It was a good game last time we played them here. They were really good, better than all the times I’d played them before. I don’t expect them to be less motivated than they were before. I think it’s going to be a difficult game.
“They will want to stop us, but we want to defeat them badly too. It works two ways!”
Wijnaldum revealed he was in sporadic contact with Marcel Brands, having worked with Everton’s director of football while the pair were at PSV Eindhoven.
“We didn’t speak before the last derby, so maybe not this time either!” he laughed.
“To be fair, it [the build-up] is quite similar to Newcastle. The supporters, they really want to win this game, and so do we. I don’t see a big difference between Newcastle-Sunderland and Liverpool-Everton.
“In the derby, their fans expect a lot from the players, they will support the players on the pitch. It’s a different game, separate from all the other ones.
“[The atmosphere] is nice. You use it to spur you on. It’s great to win there. My first year we won there. Then last year we had two draws, and we won [at Anfield] in the cup.
“It’s a totally different atmosphere to a normal game, but we go there to play football and to hopefully enjoy it.”