Georginio Wijnaldum thanked his teammates for guiding him through an unfamiliar role during Liverpool’s resounding 5-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.
With Joel Matip (adductor) and Joe Gomez (virus) ruled out of the trip to the Amex Stadium and Ragnar Klavan only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench after illness, Jürgen Klopp deployed midfielder Wijnaldum as part of a three-man defence alongside Emre Can and Dejan Lovren.
Klopp revealed post-match that the Reds only trained with their new system and line-up for '20-odd minutes' and Netherlands international Wijnaldum praised those alongside him for helping him adapt to a completely different position.
“It was difficult because I’ve never played there so it was new for me,” Wijnaldum told Liverpoolfc.com.
“You could see in the first half that it was really difficult for me to play there, but in the second half it went better and the players next to me helped me a lot.
“The manager was running out of options [in defence]. We had a few injuries with Joel Matip injured, Ragnar Klavan sick, Joe Gomez sick, so that’s why we had to play two central midfielders there.”
Brighton went in to Saturday’s game having only conceded 14 goals in their 14 previous Premier League outings this season, meaning Wijnaldum took extra satisfaction in the manner of Liverpool's win on the south coast.
“I’m really pleased because if you look at the games they have played in the Premier League against the bigger teams they didn’t concede that many goals,” the No.5 said.
“We did well and we scored from almost all of the chances we created and that’s a good thing against a team that doesn’t concede a lot of goals.
“We have been working hard and trying to be more concentrated. If a team wants to beat us they have to do their best - not that we want to give them that [opportunity].”
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The 27-year-old was particularly pleased with the Reds’ second and third goals, which were registered by Roberto Firmino following devastating breaks.
“We must be honest, I think we were lucky that we didn’t concede before we scored to make it 3-0 so the most important thing if we have got to be sharper defending, but yes on the counter-attack we did well,” Wijnaldum continued.
“I think we have showed that a lot this season that we are good on the counter-attack so we have to continue that in every game.
“That’s also a threat to the opposite team and also to us. It’s good because we can create more chances with that [on the break].”