Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum: Manchester City get lucky

Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum is talking respectfully about the consistency and mentality of unbeaten Premier League leaders Manchester City when he suddenly adds: ‘I also think they have had more luck than us this season.’

Winjaldum may be partially thinking about team-mate Sadio Mane receiving a red card at The Etihad but does he regard Philippe Coutinho’s departure before today’s return game at Anfield as more good fortune for Pep Guardiola?

‘Every top team is probably happy Phil has left for another team in another country. Yeah, I think that’s also luck,’ says the 27-year-old Dutch international emphatically.

Georginio Wijnaldum feels Sunday's opponents Manchester City have been getting lucky

Georginio Wijnaldum feels Sunday's opponents Manchester City have been getting lucky

‘He wanted to go to his dream club. As players we were all happy for him because he was a good guy. But it’s also sad because with Phil in the team, you are better.

'To be fair I think we still have to realise that he’s gone. It’s still strange. We can't think a lot about it because we can't control it.’

Liverpool and City have scored more goals than anyone else in the Premier League. Yet City are 18 points ahead.

‘They have been the most consistent all season That is the big difference between them and us, and them all the top teams,’ says Winjaldum.

‘City barely give away any games. Even if the performances aren’t good, they still win. They focus until the last minute because they know with their quality they can always make a goal.

The Dutchman and Liverpool welcome the league leaders to Anfield on Sunday

The Dutchman and Liverpool welcome the league leaders to Anfield on Sunday

‘We’ve played well certain games but didn’t always get the result we wanted.’

Wijnaldum isn’t hiding behind Mane’s dismissal as the full reason for losing 5-0 to City in September. But Liverpool were only 1-0 behind - Coutinho missed the match through injury - when the Senegal forward was sent off in the first half for catching goalkeeper Ederson as they both challenged for the ball.

‘It was an accident. Sometimes the referee gives a red card, sometimes a yellow,’ assesses Wijnaldum. ‘The week after there was a game between Newcastle and Swansea in a similar situation with (Matt) Ritchie and the ref gave the yellow card. In that situation you have to be lucky.

‘Of course, it’s also quality to score five goals and we did a few things wrong. On Sunday we play 11 against 11. If it stays like that, it will give us more chance to win!’

Better memories for the energetic midfield player came from last season’ s fixture at Anfield in which he scored the only goal with a header.

This is an important period for Liverpool's engine room as they try to overcome the loss of Coutinho following his massive £145million move to Barcelona.

Wijnaldum insists Jurgen Klopp is not adding to the burden of responsibility. He is not a manager who would put that kind of pressure on players,’ reveals the former Newcastle player now that Liverpool's Fab Four has been reduced to three.

Liverpool will face City without the influence of mercurial Brazilian Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool will face City without the influence of mercurial Brazilian Philippe Coutinho

‘The only pressure the manager puts on us is to give 100 per cent. He is hardly ever upset in a game if he sees you giving everything. Only if you don’t try to do the things you’re good at, or if you’re scared. Then he’ll get angry.'

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Klopp had substituted or left out Coutinho in the past and the German coach will see it as a great challenge to build a post-Coutinho team.

He’s already signed £54million midfielder Naby Keita from Leipzig. He was due at Anfield next summer but the club would love him to arrive this month and might be prepared to pay to bring the arrival date forward.

Another huge fee, £75million, has been spent on making Virgil van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender six months after Liverpool apologised to Southampton for their controversial pursuit.

Wijnaldum is close to the centre-half from the Dutch national team.

‘He is an easy-going, relaxed person who gets along with everyone. But even I didn’t realise he was this calm. That’s a good thing given the amount of money spent on him and the pressure.

‘We spoke a few times (about Liverpool). I told him how the club was and everything. I told him whatever decision you make just follow your heart.

Jurgen Klopp is bidding to become the first manager to halt Pep Guardiola's men this season

Jurgen Klopp is bidding to become the first manager to halt Pep Guardiola's men this season

‘I’m not his guide here but if he asks me something I will help. I think I will be the first person he will ask because I'd Dutch, he's Dutch and we know each other very well.’

On their day, Liverpool stand comparison with City as the most thrilling team in the country and Klopp will be delighted top scorer Mo Salah is available again this afternoon after missing three games with a minor muscle problem.

However, a perceived lack of leadership since Steven Gerrard retired may be something van Dijk can help with.

‘With the national team he speaks a lot in the dressing room,’ says Wijnaldum. ‘He talks a lot to help his team-mates. That is why he was captain of Southampton before the trouble came.’