By 90Min
January 26, 2018

A relatively well-known fact about Liverpool midfielder Gini Wijnaldum is that he is yet to score an away goal in the Premier League since making the move to England in 2015, where he first joined Newcastle. 

However, his absence on the scoreboard across the country is not the only place he has gone missing, as the mysterious and curious case of Wijnaldum extends to matches against those in the lower half of the table, and in away matches as a whole. 

His reputation now precedes him and Liverpool can ill afford to carry a passenger in games which do not receive the same hype of a heavyweight clash - their spot in the top four counts on it. 

Stu Forster/GettyImages

The onus as a midfield player in Jurgen Klopp's system is to suffocate the opposition and counter-attack with pace and precision. Whilst the tactic thrives against sides who are willing to go toe-to-toe with the Reds, it has often fallen flat on its face against deep lying opposition. 

This is where Wijnaldum is exposed. The Netherlands international has shown an inability to adapt to the demands placed upon him to up the tempo and create chances against a low block, traits which are all the more imperative for the Reds following the departure of midfield maestro Philippe Coutinho

It would be unfair to suggest the 27-year-old is the sole reason for Liverpool's struggles against defensively positioned sides, however his output is significantly lower than games played at home or against those in the top six.

Liverpool's first defeat in 18 games came at the hands of Swansea on Monday, where Wijnaldum was a member of a midfield three which included Emre Can and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. 

The Reds dominated the ball - 72% of it for that matter - yet Wijnaldum failed to make any meaningful dribbles and created just one chance. Despite having a 92% pass accuracy his time on the ball played into the hands of the Swans as only 27% of his passes went forward, which left Liverpool stagnated amidst an organised 10-man block. 

In comparison to his display against City the week prior, Wijnaldum moved the ball forward 44% of the time and won four of his six take-ons. His impact is undoubtedly matched to the occasion.

For example, five of the games which he has been substituted this season - not including those he had to retire due to injury - have come at a time when Liverpool were desperate for forward impetus and a goal.


The narrow league victory against Crystal Palace in August saw his exit come just after the 70th minute, where the breakthrough then arrived minutes later. Where his withdrawal around the 70 minute mark - although not reaping the same result - against both West Brom, in a 0-0 draw, and Swansea were signs of his ineffectiveness in a vast majority of games. 

However, with the best part of the Premier League aware of Liverpool's struggles against a well-drilled and defensively positioned side the occasions for Wijnaldum to shine this season are quickly running out. 

From the Reds' remaining 14 league games, just three are against those currently in the top five - Tottenham at Anfield and Manchester United and Chelsea away from home - and with the battle for the top four set to run until the last matchday, the midfielder must discover an attacking threat if he is to help secure Liverpool's place in the Champions League for the second successive season. 

Liverpool fans can no longer issue a missing person plea for the Dutch midfielder as patience is quickly evaporating at the club which is desperate for success, and playing with what feels like 10 men is not going to end the barren spell anytime soon. 

Wijnaldum may be a smiling assassin off the field but he needs to develop an attacking threat to assist his forward players if he is to stave off criticism and hold on to his spot in the side amidst a Klopp squad overhaul which is undoubtedly just around the corner. 

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