Tummy trouble hasn’t suppressed Wijnaldum’s hunger
Liverpool midfielder shines in 3-0 victory over Bournemouth despite illness
Georginio Wijnaldum scores Liverpool’s second goal against Bournemouth at Anfield on Saturday. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Georginio Wijnaldum has said Liverpool’s title fortunes rest on sustaining the form that dismantled Bournemouth on Saturday, when he shone throughout the 3-0 victory despite suffering illness.
The midfielder capped a man-of-the-match display with a delightful goal, his first at Anfield since October 2017, as Jürgen Klopp’s side reacted impressively to Manchester City overtaking them in the title race. Wijnaldum was named in the lineup only on the morning of the game, having missed training, and he disclosed in graphic detail that he played while suffering with a stomach complaint.
“On Thursday night I had a tablet from the doctor for my knee,” said the 28-year-old, who missed the draw at West Ham with an ongoing knee problem. “It was a tablet that could induce stomach pains. I took it and I had a pain and thought it was from the tablet. In the end I was vomiting and everyone was a little bit scared. I didn’t train on Friday and I didn’t sleep at the hotel either because they thought I might infect other players.
“The manager called me and asked if I could play. I said I was as positive as I can be. In the morning I was still weak and had diarrhoea. The tablets helped a lot but even at half-time I had to run off quickly to get to the toilet. At half-time I thought, ‘Oh no,’ but I ran inside and managed to control it.”
We have to give everything in every game and in the end see where we are
Wijnaldum is confident he will recover from the illness and the knee condition during the 10-day break before Liverpool’s next game, against Bayern Munich. The Netherlands international said the Bournemouth victory was the perfect response to dropping points against West Ham and Leicester, and reset the benchmark for the performance level required to win the Premier League.
He added: “We must make sure we respond every game, not just one game. It is difficult [competing with City] but we already knew from the beginning that it would be difficult. We have to give everything in every game and in the end see where we are. You could see at the beginning of the season we have improved.”
Liverpool’s midfield three of Wijnaldum, Fabinho and Naby Keïta impressed, with the summer signing from RB Leipzig producing one of his strongest games for the club. Keïta has started the past four matches, his longest sequence, and Klopp admitted a decision was taken to play the Guinea international into form.
The Liverpool manager described Keïta’s second-half performance at West Ham as a “big step” and said: “There is still a lot to come because he is still adapting. Sometimes it takes longer, that’s how it is. People lose patience, that’s normal– but we don’t. This was obviously one of the best games he’s played.”