Gini’s so happy to share the workload
GINI WIJNALDUM admits that his body was “broken” during a punishing first season at Liverpool after arriving from Newcastle.
But with boss Jurgen Klopp having splashed out £74million on midfield support this summer, the Dutchman will not be running on empty come next May.
Liverpool have the demands of Champions League football to contend with this season but Wijnaldum, 26, can handle that knowing he will get chances to put his feet up for a well-earned rest.
The arrival of Mo Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain means there is competition for places in the middle of Liverpool’s speedy attacking force.
Wijnaldum, though, has a ‘bring-it-on’ attitude after admitting that his 40 appearances on his debut season did take a heavy toll.
He said: “Last season I played almost all the games but at the end of it my body was broken. It was tough.
“But it has already changed from last year because we have so many matches, we have to rest a lot.
“That, though, is what you want as a player – to play in as many competitions as you can so I’m not complaining.
“But players will get tired so if you have a big squad it’s easier to manage at the end of the season.
“Last season we didn’t have a lot of options at certain stages so that made it hard. We now have a really good team with a lot of quality.”
Wijnaldum has impressed since his arrival for £25m in July 2016 and when he scored the winner against Manchester City on New Year’s Eve, second-placed Liverpool believed they were on their way to hopefully bringing back the title to Anfield.
That campaign ended with Klopp’s side frustrated in fourth by the time May came around but Wijnaldum is confident there will not be another great fade away this time around.
Wijnaldum added: “Last season we did well in the first half but in the second half we were not really a threat to Chelsea because we lost too many games and dropped too many points.
“But everything can happen this season.
“It’s better to first compete than to say immediately we are going to win titles.
If you’re not competing, you’re not allowed to think about titles.
“We will see what happens but a club like Liverpool must always try to compete to win something.”
IT was hardly a fitting match to mark the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Liverpool’s first game.
That 7-1 win against Rotherham Town in 1892 was the start of Liverpool’s glorious history, which includes being champions of Europe on five occasions.
But there was nothing remotely glorious about this match at an unusually-subdued Anfield.
Not that Burnley were complaining as they maintained their unbeaten start to the season away from home with another excellent performance.
They took the lead through Scott Arfield and after Mo Salah had equalised for the home side, Sean Dyche’s men could have won it.
Ben Mee produced two late headers from successive Robbie Brady corners which caused panic for Liverpool.
The first was headed off the line by Joel Matip and the second was blocked by Reds keeper Simon Mignolet.
Liverpool, with Philippe Coutinho starting for the first time since he was blocked from joining Barcelona, at least picked up the point which made it 1,000 at home in the Premier League.
But this will still be viewed as two points dropped.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche, though, was understandably delighted.
He said: “You’ve got to defend well in the Premier League but particularly at places like this.
“They made seven changes but were still throwing on players who cost fortunes.
“But we are doing better away from home because we are learning about the Premier League.
“It’s not just what I am doing, but what the players are doing.
“We came here to make it uncomfortable for Liverpool.
“Everyone tells you they are struggling from set-pieces and we nearly won it from a couple of those situations.
“We are not going to out-football Liverpool, so we had to make it uncomfortable for them.”
There was a big focus before the match on Liverpool’s defensive record, just a week after their 5-0 drubbing at Manchester City.
Boss Jurgen Klopp (right) stated before the match that he is happy to shoulder the blame for the goals conceded.
But he was clearly unhappy with his back four – and with central defenders Joel
Ragnar Klavan in particular –when
Burnley took the lead in the
Robbie Brady climbed well to win James Tarkowski’s long ball in the air, Chris Wood challenged and the centre of the Liverpool defence opened up invitingly for Arfield to race through and stroke the ball into the far corner of the net.
Klopp was feeling better, though, three minutes later when his side hit back with a quick equaliser.
Emre Can found Salah, who had headed just over.
But this time the he produced good control and a crisp left-foot finish for his fifth goal of the season.
Some Liverpool fans thought their side had taken the lead in the 41st minute when Daniel Sturridge’s left-foot strike crashed into the netting.
But celebrations were cut short when everyone realised Sturridge had hit the side netting from Coutinho’s perfectly-weighted pass.
Burnley keeper Nick Pope – in for the injured Tom Heaton – then held on to a low effort from the adventurous Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Coutinho adopted a shoot-onsight policy as Liverpool stepped up the pressure and his lead was followed by Can.
The Germany midfielder produced an effort which was too hot to hold for Pope – later booked for time-wasting – but Burnley managed to survive on that occasion at the expense of a corner.
Pope then beat out a rocket of an effort from Sturridge as the England striker cut in from the right before striking the ball left-footed.
The Clarets keeper saved well again from Alexander-Arnold six minutes from time as Liveroool made a late charge to win it.
And two minutes later, Pope superbly turned substitute Dominic Solanke’s close-range effort on to the underside of the bar, after Liverpool had appealed for a penalty when Mee challenged Salah. Dyche said: “Nick handled it well. He made some basic saves then some special ones late on.”
As the tension increased, Can and Burnley’s Jack Cork were cautioned when they clashed in added time.
Klopp said: “I can’t feel positivity today but I will tomorrow because of our football.” earlier
■ LEVEL TERMS: Salah makes it 1-1 with a left-foot finish at Anfield ■ SMILES BETTER: The Egyptian celebrates his equaliser for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds ■ I’M BACK: Want-away ace Coutinho fires in a shot on his return to the side
KOP SOLDIER: Wijnaldum