Liverpool maintained their 100% record in the Premier League with a convincing victory over Tottenham. Their midfield was strengthened significantly during the summer and that has led to the emergence of Gini Wijnaldum as a holding midfielder. The Dutchman would have feared for his future, but he has been given an opportunity and taken it with both hands.
The 27-year-old has started all five league matches. Against Tottenham, he was one of the best players on the pitch. Although he isn’t picked for his goal threat, he showed that side to his game as he opened the scoring with an excellent header. It was his first away Premier League goal and he will be relieved to have that unwanted stat off his back.
Wijnaldum kept things ticking over in the midfield, offering an option every time a team-mate had possession. This season, he has a pass accuracy of 92.3%, which underlines how reliable he is with the ball at his feet. He offers control in the centre of the park, while his dynamism allows him to quickly shift the ball from defence to attack.
The combination of Wijnaldum, Naby Keita and James Milner looks to be the favoured one at the moment. There is a good blend of industry, technical ability and dynamism.
However, it leaves both Jordan Henderson and Fabinho on the sidelines waiting for minutes. The former has played just 154 minutes in the league this season. Meanwhile, the latter has yet to make his Premier League debut for the club. It was expected that both would be in the starting eleven alongside Keita, but that hasn’t been the case.
For a team challenging for the title, it is important to have strength in depth. Liverpool lacked that last season. Competition for places increases the productivity of every player at the club. A new signing can sometimes push an existing player on to better things.
That seems to be the case with Wijnaldum. The Dutch international is having more influence on matches and has a new motivation to succeed in a Reds’ shirt. The time will come for Fabinho to be given a chance in the first team.
However, at the time of writing, Wijnaldum has done superbly and is emerging as a real asset for Liverpool.