Gini Wijnaldum is always up for a fight.
This time last year he was trying to help Newcastle avoid relegation – now he’s battling to get Liverpool a top-four finish.
“Crystal Palace at home is a game we have to win,” admitted Wijnaldum with Liverpool sitting third but having played more matches.
It’s been quite a turn around in fortunes for the 26-year-old Holland star as he aims to heap pressure on the chasing pack of Champions League wannabes Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Last April, his first English club Newcastle were sliding into the Championship.
The 26-year-old admits he wasn’t enjoying his football – the trademark beaming smile which has endeared him to the Kop was absent.
He said: “I had good intentions when I went to Newcastle.
“In the beginning we were trying to play football but as soon as you don’t win games the confidence goes away and basically you’re fighting to survive.
“You forget how you can enjoy football.
“At the end of the season my joy disappeared.
“It was about fighting. It wasn’t football anymore.”
When Liverpool came calling with a £25million offer, Wijnaldum couldn’t wait to join Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield army.
And although there has been no let-up in the intensity to gain positive results, on Merseyside it’s about the drive for success rather than scrambling for the lifeboats.
He added: “When I am enjoying my football I can give my best.
“Then it’s OK because I know I’m a good player. When I’m enjoying myself I can be even better.
“Pressure is part of football especially when you play for a big club like Liverpool.
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“Expectations are really high, but you have to see that as a blessing because when you are young and start playing you want to end up at a club like Liverpool.”
Liverpool go into this afternoon’s clash on the back of successive wins at Stoke and West Brom.
Wijnaldum said: “West Brom was really difficult. They have some strong players and we had to fight. “It was the same at Stoke where we went behind. Palace is going to be another physical battle .”