Georginio Wijnaldum insists Liverpool must retain a deep conviction they can get back on track after their recent run and aim to start playing with the freedom that enabled them to make a blistering start to 2016-17.
The Reds will head into Saturday’s tea-time clash with Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on the back of a run that has seen them win just one of their last 10 matches in all competitions, with that victory coming in the FA Cup third-round replay at Plymouth Argyle.
Most recently, Jürgen Klopp’s side went down to a 2-0 defeat at Hull City last Saturday, meaning they dropped out of the top four places in the Premier League table – this coming just days after an outstanding performance in a 1-1 home draw with Chelsea.
Nevertheless, Wijnaldum feels it’s critical Liverpool’s players don’t lose faith in their collective ability, particularly after the manner in which they began the campaign with a free-flowing, high-intensity style of attacking football.
Reflecting on the reasons behind the Reds’ recent run, the Netherlands midfielder said: “It’s difficult to say. People from outside ask us what the reason is that we’re not performing as good as before; they ask you is it [the number of] games that we’ve played, because we’ve played a lot of games in a row – but other teams have had the same and didn’t drop points, and we did.
“Sometimes you’re in a flow and sometimes not. We’re in a situation where we’re not in a flow, but we must have confidence and faith we can change it.
“We showed it against Chelsea, but we have to show that against other teams we’re playing against. We must get the focus to play again like before, playing with freedom.
“If you don’t collect a lot of points, if you lose a lot of games and if you don’t play the way you played before, I think you lose a little bit of confidence. But now we must make sure we get back on track, play like we did before to get more confidence and start winning games.”
Next up is an Anfield test against the league’s current second-placed team, Tottenham – who sit four points ahead of Liverpool.
Wijnaldum believes a focus on the task at hand, rather than dwelling on the frustration of recent weeks, will be key for the Reds, both collectively and individually.
“For me, every game is another [opportunity], so even after a game in which we’ve played well and won, you enjoy it a little bit but then you focus on the next game again,” he continued.
“That’s what we’re trying to do now, trying to learn from the mistakes we’ve made in the games. And also, I am trying to learn from the mistakes I’ve made in the games, looking forward to trying to [perform] better in every game.
“It’s not that I think about the games all of the time, but I think about the moments I could have done better and the moments I did well to take that with me and learn from it to play a better game next time.”
Liverpool are undefeated against their top-six rivals in the Premier League this season – a run they’ll be aiming to extend against Spurs.
Wijnaldum has found the net in two of the last three fixtures with teams at the table’s summit, scoring headers against Manchester City and Chelsea.
The 26-year-old cites a high team performance level in such matches as the reason behind his own impressive displays and something they’ll need to reproduce once again when they take on Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
“I don’t think it’s only me, but the whole team. It makes it easier for me because if we deliver as a team, it is easier for each player to show their quality – and that’s what I’ve had in the big games,” said Wijnaldum.
“To be fair, in the big games it’s been the best kind of football we’ve played this season, so I think it’s easier for everyone to perform in those kind of games. I’m lucky that I scored important goals in those games. It’s easy to say the performance against big teams, but I think it is the whole team who performs against a big team.”