Georginio Wijnaldum believes it is possible for Liverpool to emulate the Invincibles of Arsenal by going unbeaten for an entire Premier League season.

Arsene Wenger's feted team of 2003-04 remains the only side to have not suffered a single loss through all 38 matches of English football's modern top-flight competition.

Liverpool lost once last term but finished second behind Manchester City, whose manager, Pep Guardiola, described an undefeated campaign as a "ridiculous" notion given the demands on clubs competing on multiple fronts.

But with the Reds victorious in each of their eight league games this season, midfielder Wijnaldum thinks a slice of history is there to be earned.

"It is possible," Wijnaldum said, in quotes reported by The Mirror.

"Nobody knows how it's going to be. We have had some luck up to now, but we have also put a lot of hard work in.

"We don't think about the fact that Arsenal did not lose in that season. We just try to give everything in every game."

European champions Liverpool are widely expected to continue their perfect start in Sunday's much-anticipated match against Manchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are in a wretched run of form and will be without injured stars David de Gea and Paul Pogba for the Old Trafford encounter.

But the leaders will not be taking any chances when it comes to defending their eight-point advantage at the top, according to Wijnaldum.

"The way we handle every match is to respect the opponent and give 100 per cent," the Netherlands international said.

"We try to do everything as good as possible, to work as hard as possible.

"Every game in the Premier League is tough. Look at the results we have had. I can't remember a game where it was easy.

"We have won them all so far because we give everything and were totally concentrated. Also, we have had a little bit of luck."

Virgil van Dijk admitted Netherlands were out of sorts in Belarus after they relied on the brilliance of Georginio Wijnaldum to secure a narrow victory.

The 2-1 success in Minsk puts Netherlands on the brink of qualifying for Euro 2020, ending the team's recent exile from major tournament football.

After missing out on Euro 2016 and last year's World Cup, Netherlands finally appear to have got their act together under coach Ronald Koeman's leadership.

Van Dijk's Liverpool team-mate Wijnaldum scored both goals for the Dutch, heading in a clinical opener before thundering in a long-range strike to give the visitors a 2-0 half-time cushion.

Wijnaldum later said his second of the night was "by far the best" of the 15 goals he has netted for his country.

But Netherlands were shaky after the break, conceding when captain Van Dijk was at fault when allowing Stanislav Dragun to steal in for a close-range header, and then surviving several scares.

Central defender Van Dijk told Dutch broadcaster NOS: "The second half was, to put it mildly, not good. We lost the ball a lot in midfield after half-time, which allowed them to counter-attack. They weren't really dangerous, but we must do that better. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror.

"We all want to go to the European Championship. The whole of the Netherlands is yearning for that, including the players of course. We are close, but we have to analyse the second-half performance and then finish the job in the next international break."

Koeman's team face Northern Ireland and Estonia in their final two qualifiers in November, when it appears highly likely they will advance alongside Germany from Group C.

A point from their next match, against Northern Ireland in Belfast on November 16, would make sure of Netherlands' place in the 24-team finals. The Dutch beat Northern Ireland on Thursday, coming from behind to secure a crucial three points, and will be expected to avoid defeat at Windsor Park.

Despite concerns about the level of performance against Belarus, Van Dijk never thought Netherlands were in danger of losing their lead.

He said: "It might have seemed dangerous, but I thought we had it under control."

Wijnaldum echoed his skipper's verdict, saying, according to uefa.com: "We were complacent in the second half, and our positional play wasn't too good. We lost possession too often. We know we can do better. But it was a good result.

"My second goal was by far the best I've scored for the national side. We feel good, because six points from the last two matches is exactly what we wanted. But, of course, we remain critical.

"If we want to go far in the finals then we have to be at our best against the top teams in the continent."

Georginio Wijnaldum led the Dutch charge towards Euro 2020 as his superb double gave Netherlands a 2-1 win in Belarus.

After the calamity of failing to qualify for last year's World Cup, Netherlands are close to securing their return to the big stage, although they were unimpressive in Minsk.

Memphis Depay was absent with a thigh injury, and the Lyon forward was badly missed after his strong form for Oranje this year.

It fell to Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum to make the difference, with his neat header and spectacular long-range strike doing the damage for Ronald Koeman's men before Belarus' Stanislav Dragun breathed fresh life into the contest.

The hosts should have gone ahead midway through the first half when Igor Stasevich's cross from the right fell to Denis Laptev, seven yards from goal.

An opening goal looked inevitable, but Matthijs de Ligt threw himself brilliantly in front of the striker's shot to make a block, before Laptev sent his follow-up off target.

Wijnaldum made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute, jumping to guide a cross from Quincy Promes into the top left corner.

His second goal nine minutes later was a stunning effort from 28 yards, raking from the left of goal into the right top corner.

Evgeni Yablonski was a yard away from a copycat strike for Belarus moments before half-time.

The hosts got one back after 53 minutes when Dragun headed home Denis Polyakov's cross from the left, getting in behind Virgil van Dijk - a rare error from the centre-back.

It was a first goal at home for Belarus since last October, when they beat Luxembourg 1-0, and Netherlands were rattled, Stasevich and Yablonski both threatening to bring the game level.

Luuk de Jong headed over as Netherlands looked for a third goal to kill the contest, and Donyell Malen fluffed a great chance late on.

What does it mean?

Netherlands and Germany have established control of Group C, with Northern Ireland's challenge apparently fading, so expect the Dutch to be at next year's finals. Belarus will be in the play-offs after winning their Nations League group.

Wijnaldum? Why not?

The midfielder came up with the goods when Netherlands' forwards were struggling to make a breakthrough in Depay's absence. Wijnaldum continues to score big goals for club and country and Sunday's second strike was one for a career highlights reel.

Mixed Minsk memories

Netherlands suffered disappointment two years ago while in the capital of Belarus, as their World Cup qualification hopes were dashed. The Dutch won 3-1 that night, but an 8-0 victory for rivals Sweden over Luxembourg earlier in the day meant Netherlands were effectively doomed to miss out on the finals. This was a better night, but nervy all the same.

What's next?

Netherlands face Northern Ireland and Estonia next month, as they wrap up their group campaign and look to seal qualification. Belarus have just one group game left, away to Germany.

Georginio Wijnaldum insists Liverpool will not be reflecting on last season's famous triumph over Barcelona when Champions League football returns to Anfield on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp's men are preparing to entertain Salzburg in their first European engagement on Merseyside since stunning Lionel Messi and LaLiga winners Barca in an extraordinary semi-final tie in May.

Divock Origi and midfielder Wijnaldum scored doubles as the Reds erased a three-goal first-leg deficit and romped to a remarkable 4-3 aggregate victory.

Liverpool rode the momentum to a 2-0 win over Tottenham in the final but the highs of last season will be out of mind for the second group game of the club's trophy defence.

"What happened in the past is always in the past," Wijnaldum told reporters.

"We created great memories but it is not something we should think about.

"Of course it gives us confidence if you are in a situation like that but it is a totally different Champions League campaign. Different games, different situations, different teams. We just have to make sure we are ready and not think about last season. 

"It is a great memory but we have to look forward to making it even greater and reach the final again."

Salzburg's visit to Anfield ends a run of four successive away matches for Liverpool in all competitions.

The Premier League leaders lost to Napoli in their Champions League opener but bounced back with three straight wins, including at Sheffield United on Saturday.

"We all know how Champions League nights are so we will look forward to that," Wijnaldum said.

"I didn't [realise] it was four away games, us players must be busy!"

Liverpool maintained their 100 per cent Premier League record courtesy of a fortuitous moment in a 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on a weekend when their nearest rivals kept the pressure on.

There were landmark goals and appearances for major players in Manchester City's 3-1 victory over Everton at Goodison Park, while Tottenham picked up a much-needed win as Harry Kane extended his outstanding record in matches against Southampton.

Spurs went into the weekend under pressure, as did rivals Chelsea who ended an unwanted 11-game streak as they beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Our Premier League Data Diary brings to light the detail behind the big stories of this weekend's top games.

 

STERLING HITS THE HUNDRED AS SILVA REACHES DOUBLE CENTURY

There were few of the fireworks that erupted during their eight-goal win over Watford but Manchester City still had enough attacking power to claim a 3-1 victory over Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring by heading in a Kevin De Bruyne cross, giving him a 22nd goal in his past 21 starts for club and country and an eighth league assist of the season for the in-form De Bruyne.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin equalised before the interval but Riyad Mahrez's fine free-kick and Raheem Sterling's 100th club goal in all competitions ended Everton's resolve and earned substitute David Silva a 200th Premier League victory in record time, the City captain making his 289th appearance in the competition.

The Toffees did manage eight shots on target, the most the champions have faced in a top-flight fixture since November 2015, but Calvert-Lewin's prodded first-half finish was all they took from a fourth defeat of the campaign.

LUCKY WIJNALDUM WINNER MAKES LIVERPOOL'S LONG WAIT WORTHWHILE

Dean Henderson's howler gifted Liverpool a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane and a club record-extending 16th successive Premier League win.

England Under-21 goalkeeper Henderson, on-loan from Manchester United, failed to keep out a tame Georginio Wijnaldum volley as the Reds made the breakthrough in the 70th minute with their first shot on target.

Jurgen Klopp's men were forced to battle hard but have now won seven games at the outset of a league season for just the second time, having first done so in 1990-91.

Their undefeated run in the Premier League, which began in January, stands at 24 matches leading into next weekend's home meeting with Brendan Rodgers' Leicester City.

KANE HITS WINNER TO MATCH SIX-GAME STREAK

Tottenham entertained Southampton having won just one of their previous five Premier League matches but survived Serge Aurier's sending-off and a Hugo Lloris howler to pick up their eighth victory over the Saints in nine league attempts at home.

Mauricio Pochettino's men started well, with Tanguy Ndombele scoring his second league goal for Spurs in the 24th minute, and he has now scored more goals (2) in five Premier League appearances for the north London club than he managed in 69 Ligue 1 appearances for Amiens and Lyon combined (1).

Aurier then picked up his second booking of the game for a foul on Ryan Bertrand in the 32nd minute and became the first Tottenham player to be sent off in a Premier League home game since Kyle Naughton against Stoke City in November 2014.

But after Lloris gifted Danny Ings an equaliser, Harry Kane pounced from 12 yards with Spurs' winner in the 43rd minute and took his tally to six in six straight Premier League appearances against Southampton, and only Robin van Persie vs Stoke (8), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink vs West Ham (7) and Romelu Lukaku vs West Ham (7) have had longer scoring streaks against an opponent in the competition.

FIRST CLEAN SHEET BRIGHTENS BLUES' PROSPECTS

Frank Lampard's first home victory as Chelsea head coach came at the expense of Brighton, who suffered a 2-0 reverse at Stamford Bridge - their ninth defeat in nine league matches between the two sides.

The result gave Chelsea the record for most games played against a single opponent while winning every single one, surpassing Bournemouth's eight victories against Wimbledon, as well as their first clean sheet under Lampard.

It was Chelsea's first clean sheet since their goalless draw with Leicester City on the last day of the 2018-19 Premier League season, ending a run of 11 matches in all competitions without a shut-out, and Jorginho's goal from the penalty spot was his second of the season - more than he mustered in 54 games last term.

Willian added a second 14 minutes from time, finding the net for the first time in 17 Premier League appearances for Chelsea despite having 32 shots at goal during that period.

Lampard will have been delighted with the clean sheet, but also with the fact that Chelsea attempted 17 shots in the first half alone - their highest total in an opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game since August 2013 (18 against Hull City).

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp revealed he almost substituted Georginio Wijnaldum shortly before his decisive goal in Saturday's 1-0 win over Sheffield United.

The Reds had struggled to break down Chris Wilder's spirited side and looked destined to drop points in the Premier League for the first time this season.

Netherlands international Wijnaldum ensured they made it seven wins out of seven, though, when his volley from the edge of the penalty area squirmed through the grasp of goalkeeper Dean Henderson 20 minutes from time at Bramall Lane. 

Klopp says he was close to bringing the midfielder off six minutes earlier but ultimately opted to introduce Divock Origi at the expense of Jordan Henderson.

"It was an offensive change," the Reds boss told a media conference. "We had the opportunity to take off either Hendo or Gini. Both worked hard; for both it was not an easy game.

"Obviously I made the right decision as Gini stayed on the pitch and scored!"

"We wanted to change our approach so we could have then Roberto [Firmino] finally between the lines but still an option in behind with Mo [Salah]. We needed to defend the wings properly because they were there constantly.

"Divock made a proper impact when he came on. It was really helpful that we could pass the ball there for the one-on-one situations and I think he crossed the ball before the goal as well."

Liverpool were far from their fluid best against Wilder's well-drilled side and Klopp says the Blades can feel hard done by in not holding on to secure a point.

"All respect to Sheffield United," he added. "They did really well and they did that over 90 minutes; that really deserves all the respect.

"We still had big chances and then we had luck around the goal, that is clear. It was not our biggest chance in the game and it was unlucky for Sheffield United for sure.

"So, if it had been a draw I would sit here and say that's how it was today, Sheffield United deserved it and that's what we deserved.

"I don't think we would have deserved to lose but a draw was there if we didn't take the chances. But we got the three points and that leaves me pretty happy at the moment, obviously."

Liverpool maintained their 100 per cent start to the Premier League season as Dean Henderson's howler handed them a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

The Reds have swept all before them so far this season domestically but looked destined to drop their first points of the campaign against Chris Wilder's spirited side.

Blade goalkeeper Henderson gifted them a 16th straight league victory, though, allowing Georginio Wijnaldum's volley to squirm through his grasp with 20 minutes remaining.

The result means Jurgen Klopp's table-topping squad move eight points clear of reigning champions Manchester City, who head to Everton later on Saturday.

The Blades were far from overawed by their more illustrious opponents in the opening stages, twice coming close before the midway point of the first half.

Oli McBurnie fired straight at Adrian after cutting in from the left in the third minute, while Callum Robinson lashed wide from 18 yards after being played in by John Fleck.

Sadio Mane then squandered a golden opportunity to open the scoring shortly after the half-hour mark, slicing horribly over with just Henderson to beat.

The Senegal international misfired again shortly before the interval, striking the post from six yards after being teed up by Roberto Firmino.

McBurnie headed over from an inswinging corner soon after the restart, while Oliver Norwood forced Adrian into a stop down to his right from 30 yards.

Yet the game's decisive moment arrived in the 70th minute when Wijnaldum's tame volley from the edge of the penalty area slipped through Henderson's grasp and trickled over the line.

The on-loan Manchester United keeper prevented Salah adding another with a smart stop, though one goal turned out to be enough for Liverpool on the road.

Georginio Wijnaldum believes Adrian's error against Southampton will prove an aberration as the Liverpool goalkeeper settles into the side.

The experienced Spaniard had a moment to forget on his first Premier League start for the Reds when a poor pass bounced off Danny Ings and into the net.

Liverpool were two goals clear at the time and held on to win 2-1 after former Reds striker Ings squandered a gilt-edged chance for an equaliser.

Adrian almost missed the match after a supporter inadvertently kicked his ankle amid the celebrations of last week's UEFA Super Cup victory over Chelsea.

The former West Ham player had been the hero in Istanbul, decisively denying Tammy Abraham in the penalty shoot-out, but could now be targeted by opponents as Liverpool's number one, Alisson, remains sidelined with a calf injury.

"Those kind of things can happen with a goalkeeper," midfielder Wijnaldum said of Adrian's mistake.

"Last season it happened to Alisson against Leicester City and in a pre-season friendly.

"How is he going to react to the mistake? I think that is more important than the mistake itself. Everyone can make a mistake, also a goalkeeper.

"But the only thing is he is a goalkeeper and if he makes a mistake a lot of times it will result in a goal."

Liverpool signed Adrian four days before their Premier League season opener after selling Simon Mignolet to Club Brugge.

Wijnaldum said: "Everyone needs time to adjust. He [has been here] not even two weeks, so we have to get used to each other.

"It would have been easier if he had come in from the start with Simon leaving and him coming in.

"Now we just have to take the time that we have and train with each other and get to know each other better because everyone needs time to settle in.

"I had it also when I came here, I think all of the signings had it when they signed for Liverpool. So he will be okay."

Georginio Wijnaldum has given a unique insight into "special" Jurgen Klopp's man-management methods after revealing the Liverpool boss addressed his team ahead of the 2018 Champions League final wearing Cristiano Ronaldo-branded underwear.

The Reds boss has carved a reputation for his jovial antics and, according to midfielder Wijnaldum, the German's pre-match team-talk for the showdown against Real Madrid - for whom then-star player Ronaldo was the chief threat - was no exception after he lightened the mood in his own inimitable style.

"We saw he was wearing the boxer shorts of Cristiano Ronaldo," the Netherlands midfielder told The Athletic. 

"He did the meeting with his shirt stuffed inside his 'CR7' boxers. The whole changing room was on the floor laughing their heads off. That really broke the ice. Usually in those situations, everyone is serious and concentrated. But he was relaxed and made this joke.

"He's done hundreds of jokes likes that. If you see that your manager is really confident and relaxed, it will have an effect on players. He is a father figure in those things for the players. With his jokes and his body language, he takes the pressure off players."

Liverpool ultimately lost the game 3-1 but went one better the following season, defeating Tottenham 2-0 to claim a sixth triumph in Europe's premier competition.

It has cemented Klopp's status as one of the world's leading coaches and Wijnaldum has paid tribute to the German's man-management style.

Wijnaldum said: "He always tries to empathise with the other person, to feel what they're going through. He is a really special man for me. I see him as more than a manager - a really good friend."

He continued: "He is the kind of manager that will be angry about things in the game, or will show emotion during a game, but when it comes to half-time, he speaks with you and gives you confidence. 'You can do it better. You have to do this, have to do that…'

"He is one of the first managers I've had who doesn't get angry when you try to do the things that you are good at. He will never be angry when you try to use your talent or quality. Even if it goes wrong.

"Since I am at Liverpool, he has helped me a lot. Not only with football, but also as a person, the way you think about things. That is why I enjoy every day of working with him. I can be really mad at him one day. But the next day the anger is gone and we will love each other again."

Georginio Wijnaldum has heralded the strength of Liverpool's squad and does not believe their quiet transfer window should be assessed yet.

The Reds brought in key figures such as Alisson and Fabinho ahead of last season, with Virgil van Dijk joining in the previous window, but they have been quiet this time around.

Liverpool, who finished second in the Premier League but won the Champions League, have only brought in teenagers Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott so far.

However, manager Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool have a squad capable of challenging again due to the returns of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin and Rhian Brewster, who were both injured last term.

Wijnaldum agrees and says judgements on Liverpool's decision not to invest must be withheld until the end of the campaign.

"We have to see," the Netherlands international told Sky Sports. "We have a good group now who have played together for a few years, we're already strong.

"When you sign players, sometimes they need time to settle in. I had it, [Andy] Robertson had it, Fabinho had it, [Naby] Keita had it. There's no guarantee when you sign a player that he can play immediately the way we want him to play.

"But we have to see. People will say, 'You needed a signing' if the season does not go well, but if it goes well, they will say we did not need a signing.

"We will see how it goes. We have players who were injured coming back from injury so the squad is already bigger and better than last season."

Liverpool's season began with a penalty shoot-out defeat to Premier League champions Manchester City in the Community Shield, but Wijnaldum insists he is enjoying a growing rivalry.

"I like it. They push us to be even better, we push them to be even better," he said. "I think that's why last season we both had a lot of points.

"When you look at each other, you know that you have to perform because otherwise the other team will walk away [with the title]."

Divock Origi scored again as Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw by Sporting CP, with Bruno Fernandes impressing in the friendly on Wednesday.

The Premier League giants finished their tour of the United States winless, but Champions League hero Origi is in goalscoring form.

Origi has scored in three of Liverpool's five friendlies, cancelling out Fernandes' opener for Sporting after Simon Mignolet's error.

Georginio Wijnaldum restored the lead for Jurgen Klopp's men before Fernandes – heavily linked with a move to Manchester United – set up Wendel in the second half at Yankee Stadium.

Liverpool, without their star attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, fell behind in just the fourth minute after an error from Mignolet.

Fernandes' long-range effort swerved but was straight at the goalkeeper, who was unable to handle it down low and saw it find the back of the net.

However, Liverpool had looked the better team and deservedly equalised in the 20th minute through Origi.

Andy Robertson's cross from the left was met by Jordan Henderson, with Origi on hand to tap in after Sporting goalkeeper Renan Ribeiro saved the captain's header.

Wendel hit the post for Sporting before Wijnaldum – playing on the left – put Liverpool ahead, his deflected finish beating Ribeiro after a wonderful outside-of-the-foot pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tiago Ilori error.

Mignolet denied Luciano Vietto with a brilliant double save prior to half-time before Sporting equalised eight minutes after the break, Wendel producing a neat finish from Fernandes' pass.

Virgil van Dijk hit the post for Liverpool with a header in the 57th minute, but neither team could find a winner.

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