Liverpool supporters have been making a lot of noise in recent times after seeing their side maintain their 100% start to the new season with victory in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men went into their encounter with French giants Paris Saint-Germain having won each of their opening five Premier League matches, the most recent of which a 2-1 success at Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham last weekend. And the Reds translated their excellent form onto the European stage on Tuesday as goals from Daniel Sturridge, James Milner, and Roberto Firmino inspired the Merseysiders to a 3-2 success over Thomas Tuchel’s side, thus maintaining their outstanding start to the campaign.
As such, there have been many thrilled Liverpudlians up and down the country in recent times, several of whom have been marvelling at the brilliance of midfielder Milner so far this season, who has simply been outstanding in the heart of Klopp’s midfield.
Yet it’s perfectly plausible that the 32-year-old’s resurgence in that area of the pitch may not have taken place were it not for the injury suffered by fellow midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Roma at the rear end of last season.
A moment in time: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury versus Roma
Yes, it is not as if this season is the first time that former England international Milner has played in the centre of midfield for Liverpool, but last term saw the 32-year-old flit in and out of Klopp’s starting eleven, with just 16 Premier League starts to show for his efforts.
And having spent much of the 2016/17 campaign deputising at left back for the awful Alberto Moreno, it looked difficult for Milner to ever reclaim a regular position in Klopp’s midfield, especially given the start to life Oxlade-Chamberlain had at Anfield.
The former Arsenal ace made the move to Merseyside last summer and went on to appear 32 times in the league for the Reds last term, only for a cruciate ligament injury sustained in their Champions League semi-final second leg defeat to Roma to rule him out for the rest of the campaign, and indeed the entirety of this one.
And while that obviously came as a blow to Klopp and the rest of the Liverpool squad, what it did mean was that the Liverpool chief had little choice but to call upon Milner more regularly in that central midfield area – a decision which has been something of a masterstroke.
And that’s because the ex-England star has arguably been Liverpool’s stand-out player in the first few weeks of the season, netting twice and laying on two assists in six appearances in all competitions for the Reds, all six of which have been starts – it’s very surprising that they haven’t yet opened contract talks with the 32-year-old.
In fact, it’s arguable that Milner is now an indispensable part of Klopp’s team such is the energy, dynamism, and relentless work-rate he brings to that midfield area, yet he also brings genuine quality on the ball as well, hence he has four direct contributions already this term.
Yes, Milner played a key part for Liverpool in their run to the Champions League final last term, mainly by playing in the middle of the park, but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s growing influence last season, alongside the arrival of Naby Keita and Fabinho during the summer, meant it was going to be tough for the 32-year-old to fully resurrect his central midfield career.
Yet the injury sustained by Oxlade-Chamberlain back in May appears to have opened the door for Milner to do just that in the early phase of this season, in turn becoming one of Liverpool’s most important players.
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