Liverpool are training ‘even harder’ in bid to defender Premier League title, says Wijnaldum

The Dutchman says the Reds have taken their preparation between matches up a notch since becoming champions of England

Liverpool are training “even harder” in their bid to defend the Premier League title, says Georginio Wijnaldum, who says the whole squad is now “sharper and more concentrated”.

The Reds picked up their first league crown in three decades last season, finishing 18 points clear of Manchester City to complete a remarkable rise to the top of the table under Jurgen Klopp.

The German manager saw his side become the first team to wrap up the title with seven matches to spare, but their performances slipped somewhat thereafter, with it suggested that motivation levels within the dressing room had dipped amid celebrations on Merseyside.

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Liverpool managed to refocus in time for the start of the 2020-21 season though, and have picked up maximum points from their opening three fixtures, putting Leeds United, Chelsea and Arsenal to the sword.

An EFL Cup fourth round defeat to the Gunners on Thursday halted the Reds’ momentum somewhat, but Klopp will be expecting a strong response when they take in a trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Sadio Mane will be unavailable after contracting coronavirus, but Liverpool will otherwise be at full strength as they bid to maintain their perfect start to the campaign.

Wijnaldum says a collective hunger to hold onto the Premier League trophy has led to an increase in intensity levels behind the scenes at Anfield over the past few weeks.

Asked how Liverpool have been able to maintain their consistency, the Dutch midfielder told the club’s official website: “Because the group was together for a long time, everyone knows each other and it’s basically the same as we did in previous seasons.

“The only thing we did now is, because we turned champions, you just want to give more and win it again. We train hard, like we did before – maybe even harder because we know we can’t do things less because we know how difficult it is to win games and to perform.

“We just do the things we did last season, but we are sharper and more concentrated.”

Liverpool will also be bidding to get their hands on European silverware again this term, having been drawn in Group D alongside Ajax, Atalanta and FC Midtjylland in the latest edition of the Champions League.

Wijnaldum is looking forward to facing several of his team-mates from the Netherlands national team at Ajax, and is wary of the threat all three teams will pose when the action kicks off later this month.

“I know a lot of players who play there, I play with a few players at the national team. It’s a good one to play against them,” he added.

“They deserve the respect with the kind of football they play – I talk about all three teams in the pool.

“They deserve our respect and we will show them that we have respect by giving 100 per cent and doing our best to win the games.”

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