Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

Georginio Wijnaldum says brutal honesty between players is driving Liverpool forward

Ahead of Premier League clash with West Ham, Dutch midfielder describes Reds squad a family who are not afraid to tell each other home truths

Georginio Wijnaldum has revealed that Liverpool's players are not afraid of being brutally honest with each other as they look to keep their outstanding form going.

Liverpool's 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night was only their third of a remarkable season – the second if you discount the under-23s being knocked out of the League Cup – and they will be targeting a record-equalling 18th straight Premier League win when they face West Ham on Monday night.

Not everything is perfect, however, and Wijnaldum says the family atmosphere within the club allows the players to speak freely to one another when the need arises.

"We've played together a few years already, so we also know each other as people," Wijnaldum said on the club's website. "We just have a group that is like friends. With each other, it feels like family.

"Maybe sometimes we have to be fair with each other and say something which the other person might not like.

"But that helps us also to be a better team because we all expect from each other that the person you play with is giving 100 per cent. We, as a team, have to make sure he does it.

"We're just honest with each other and try to help each other out to do as good as possible."

Liverpool will have to wait until the return leg at Anfield on March 11 to right the wrongs of Tuesday's loss to Atletico, but Jurgen Klopp has already said he expects to see a reaction from his players when they face David Moyes' Hammers side.

Few would bet against them re-establishing their 22-point advantage at the top of the Premier League, but Wijnaldum says the players do not get ahead of themselves.

"Think of one game at a time, try to give everything every game and at the end you will see what will happen," he said. "We don't really think about results and those things.

"We just think about the game and try to give everything we have and do as good as possible so we have the biggest chance to win the game.

"Until now, it went quite well, really well, so we hope we can continue this run until the end."

It is less than a month since Liverpool won 2-0 away to West Ham in the reverse fixture. Wijnaldum admitted Liverpool had found West Ham a tough nut to crack as they defended in numbers.

"It's going to be a difficult game," he said. "When we played away it was already a difficult game – they dropped deep, they made it difficult for us to play our football. I think they're going to try to do that again.

West Ham manager David Moyes was criticised by some Hammers fans for his defensive tactics in last week's defeat against Manchester City. Reuters
West Ham manager David Moyes was criticised by some Hammers fans for his defensive tactics in last week's defeat against Manchester City. Reuters

"Every situation is different, we just have to deal with the situation we will be in at that moment."

Meanwhile, Moyes has launched a staunch defence of his tactics at Manchester City as West Ham prepare for another backs-to-the-wall encounter.

Some Hammers fans were dismayed at Moyes' team selection on Wednesday night, a line-up seemingly with damage limitation in mind consisting of five at the back, four in midfield and Michail Antonio in attack on his own.

Meanwhile more than £100 million (Dh476m) worth of talent, including Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini and record signing Sebastien Haller, kicked their heels on the bench.

An underwhelming 2-0 defeat left some of the travelling support wondering why they had bothered making the long midweek trip for the rearranged fixture.

But Moyes is likely to serve up more of the same when his relegation-threatened side head to the runaway leaders on Monday.

He said: "The message to the ones who travelled up was thanks very much for coming to the game, which had been rearranged and was not easy to get to. They were terrific and we appreciate them.

"But I think the real supporters understand how difficult the games are. They understand that the two games we have in this period are very hard.

"In the main, many of the supporters I have spoken to have been very supportive and really understanding.

"We went there hoping to get something from the game. We've tried other formations and other players that haven't worked either. We're trying to find situations and look for situations that will help us."

Updated: February 23, 2020 07:07 PM

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