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Fan rant of the day: He may not shine always but Wijnaldum is important to Klopp’s system

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Georginio Wijnaldum

Liverpool showed their battling qualities at Stamford Bridge as we came back from a goal down to level the scores via an unbelievable Daniel Sturridge strike.

The 29-year-old smacked home the equalizer from 30 yards out and we kept our unbeaten run going in the league.

The team were brilliant throughout and it was a testament to our newfound belief of doing well. Truth be told, we could have won this game but a point at the Bridge is a great result and most of our players have been exceptional.

Alisson was excellent in the game and so were the likes of James Milner and Andy Robertson. But one player has evaded the spotlight for a long time and that is Georginio Wijnaldum.

A silent star who is producing the games of his life

Since his move to Liverpool from Newcastle a few years ago, I wasn’t quite certain of what he was going to do at the club.

The Dutch midfielder was often played either in an advanced role or he did his bit by keeping the game ticking. However, we barely saw his best at Anfield.

Things have changed drastically for the midfielder this season as Jurgen Klopp prefers to play him over new boys Naby Keita and Fabinho.

The German manager was even quoted by the Mirror as saying:

“Gini can switch from one mindset to the other and that is pretty good for us.

“If you ask me he was brilliant in pre-season as the eight. He was good as the six but brilliant as the eight. That’s why we never had any doubts about him. He can play both.”

In fact, the Dutch midfielder has slowly grown in importance over the past season or so. Wijnaldum has started all seven Premier League games for us this season.

His role of moving about and keeping things going as the ball recycler seem to be working as he has recorded a passing percentage of 92.5 in the Premier League and 92.2 from his sole game in the Champions League.

James Milner

Wijnaldum has a better passing success rate than James Milner and even Jordan Henderson, who usually keeps the team ticking along.

The Dutchman isn’t someone who will perform a brilliant turn and trick the opposition but he is ever-present and an extremely hard worker.

The 27-year-old also comes up with some crucial goals such as the one against Tottenham Hotspur a few weeks ago.

Klopp has tweaked his team a little bit this season but that is necessary in order to dominate teams. Furthermore, this has been a work in progress ever since Philippe Coutinho left the team and joined Barcelona.

Milner has been another midfield star for us and even in the game against Chelsea, Wijnaldum and the Englishman were doing all they could to get the team back level.

The former Manchester City man even moved as a left-back to help Andy Robertson push forward but the Dutchman wasn’t as big a figure as some of our other players.

He was running, trying to keep things ticking and was an outlet for his teammates in case they needed a ‘get out of jail’ card.

Read more: Daniel Sturridge sends great message to fan celebrating with team after 1-1 Chelsea draw

The likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and even Sadio Mane keep receiving the plaudits and awards but the player who has kept Liverpool ticking this season is Wijnaldum. And now, we know how important he is for the team.

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Liverpool have the last laugh at Napoli manager and star after nasty comments

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Napoli were silenced at the end of an eventful and heart-stopping Champions League tie against Liverpool.

The Reds beat their Italian rivals to march into the next round of the competition, and Alisson had the last laugh as he blocked Arkadiusz Milik’s stoppage-time effort.

All Napoli needed to do was avoid defeat, or lose by a one-goal margin after scoring at Anfield. However, some comments made by the manager and a star player will surely haunt them.

Carlo Ancelotti was the Chelsea manager earlier in his career and knows all about Liverpool, and the Mirror shared some of his quotes regarding this fixture from a month back.

The Italian was speaking after their win over Red Star on matchday five and was confident of making it through (h/t Mirror):

“We have been a real surprise in this group and I think those same people would be even more surprised if we manage to go through the next stage.

“If we don’t qualify instead we can call ourselves… a***holes.

“At this stage of the competition I truly believe that if we don’t qualify we should call ourselves a***holes.”

Mohamed Salah scores for Liverpool

Dries Mertens was another that seemed to speak a lot but now has to eat humble pie. The Belgian dared to speak out about the “This is Anfield” sign during an interview with the Times (h/t Mirror):

“My strongest memory is that they have a sign saying ‘This is Anfield’ and everyone was talking about it, so I was thinking it’s very big, you know,”

“I came through the tunnel and I asked, ‘Where is the thing?’ and they said you missed it and I hadn’t noticed it.

“So in the second half, I’m looking at this small thing and asking, ‘is this so special?'”

Read more: “It is painful” – Jurgen Klopp provides injury update after 1-0 Napoli win

The last thing anyone needs to do is rile up Liverpool in a European game. Napoli, hopefully, have learnt their lesson now.

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Liverpool interested in 18-year-old Championship starlet from Leeds United

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Jack Clarke

Leeds United’s Jack Clarke is on the radar of Liverpool, according to Plymouth Live. The 18-year-old has made six appearances for Leeds this season in the Championship and has one assist to his name.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side are doing very well in the Championship and sit second in the table as they look to gain promotion.

The forward has attracted the attention of several Premier League clubs as the report adds that Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City are keeping tabs on the Englishman.

The report claims that Clarke signed his first professional contract when he turned 17 and is valid until 2021, hence the player will not come on the cheap.

Liverpool invested heavily in the summer window with four first-team players coming, and it will be interesting to keep an eye on our activity in January.

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has worked wonders with some of the youngsters at Liverpool, and Clarke’s development could be better under our youth team coaches.

It would be unlikely for Clarke to slot straight into our first-team as the Reds have a lot of competition in the midfield and attack.

Read more: “Wasted ~100 seconds. He’s living in 2030” – Some Liverpool fans react hilariously to forward’s struggles against Napoli

The Reds lead the Premier League after 16 games, and with the right investment in the side, we could make it a real title race against Manchester City.

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Liverpool could face some tough sides in knockout round of the Champions League – but here is why they can beat them all

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Alisson saves from Arkadiusz Milik

Alisson saves brilliantly for Liverpool

Liverpool did it the hard way, but they did it. The Merseyside club made it into the last 16 of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over Napoli, and there were some heart-stopping moments along the way.

From Sadio Mane’s misses to Alisson’s big save in stoppage, this match certainly lived up to its billing and Anfield was a bundle of energy pushing the Reds towards victory.

In all honesty, Liverpool should have won this game by a comfortable margin, but things are never easy for us.

Our poor away form saw us lose all three group games not held at Anfield, and this played a huge role in us finishing second in the group behind PSG.

Last season, we topped the group and we got a decent tie in the first knockout game with a trip to Porto. Of course, the Estadio do Dragao is a difficult place to visit but we won the first-leg 5-0.

Expecting something similar seems a bit of a stretch, given who all we could face in the first knockout round.

Tough tie awaits Liverpool

Finishing second means we will face one of the other group winners in this season’s competition. We can’t face a Premier League side as UEFA rules prohibit same country teams meeting in the first knockout round, and our possible opponents could be:

Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Porto, Bayern Munich/Ajax, Lyon, Real Madrid/Roma, Juventus.

That makes for some tough games, and if things work in our favour we could be drawn against a Porto or Ajax, but that’s wishful thinking.

There is another issue we have to keep in mind with Virgil van Dijk missing the first leg of the knockout round due to his yellow card against Napoli.

Liverpool have been excellent in the Premier League but their performances in Europe haven’t been outstanding this season.

However, to progress, they need to get some things right.

Liverpool need to tweak things to get the best out of the side

Jurgen Klopp has tweaked a lot with his formation this season, and it has worked more often than not. Shifting from the crazy heavy metal 4-3-3 last season, the German has deployed a safer 4-2-3-1 with Mohamed Salah leading the line and Roberto Firmino playing behind the Egyptian.

This pragmatic approach makes it difficult for teams to break us down but our attack isn’t as fluid as it was last season.

The Reds struggled with their 4-3-3 in Europe this season, and some of our worst displays actually came with this formation in use.

James Milner Liverpool

Looking at the opposition, only the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona should scare the Reds. We have a decent record against Borussia Dortmund with that magical night in the Europa League a couple of years ago.

Further, Bayern Munich aren’t the dominant force they were under Pep Guardiola and have already lost three Bundesliga games this season.

The Reds should keep playing their 4-2-3-1 formation and possibly field Naby Keita in behind Roberto Firmino.

The Guinea midfielder has the guile and ability to run past defences with his dribbling, while Firmino can stretch any defence with his movement.

Shifting Salah out wide to the right might be a risk after his exploits down the middle, but this makes us play similar to what we did last season.

The Egyptian was brilliant down the right against Napoli and he seems to be hitting form at the right moment.

Mohamed Salah Virgil van Dijk Liverpool

The trio of attackers need to find their verve, and fortunately, we seem to be heading on the right track if the last few games are taken into consideration.

The midfield is where we should see more change with Fabinho starting more games in Europe alongside Jordan Henderson.

The Brazilian is a shield to our defence but is capable of threading the needle too. The pair of Fabinho and Keita have been picking up in recent games, and their partnership will be crucial in our Champions League run.

Naby Keita of Liverpool

We have toned down the Gegenpressing in the first half of the season, but that surely has to change once we face some of the tougher sides.

The defence and our goalkeeper are possibly the best in England, and one of the best in Europe, so we aren’t worried about that.

The Reds are in great touch now, and qualifying for the knockout round will have given us more confidence.

Read more: “Wasted ~100 seconds. He’s living in 2030” – Some Liverpool fans react hilariously to forward’s struggles against Napoli

We beat Napoli at home, we beat PSG at home, and frankly, we shouldn’t worry about who we face in the next round.

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