Liverpool have been given a boost with the news that James Milner and Sadio Mane will be available for inclusion in tonight’s Premier League season opener against newly-promoted Norwich at Anfield.
Also, according to BBC, veteran midfielder Milner has recovered from the muscle strain that ruled him out of last weekend’s Community Shield clash against former club Manchester City.
Despite being the oldest member of Liverpool’s squad, Milner, who is valued at £13.5m (by Transfermarkt), remains an influential presence in Jurgen Klopp’s team, making 45 appearances last season in which he scored seven goals and provided seven assists (0.16 per game).
Although five of those goals were penalties, the midfielder’s contributions were significant, with three points gained from his strike in a 1-1 draw at Arsenal and a late penalty winner at Fulham. He also struck from the spot to settle a tense game at Cardiff in the title run-in.
In the Champions League, his penalty in the 3-2 home win against Paris Saint-Germain ultimately made a massive difference. Without the two extra points it helped to gain, Liverpool would not have even qualified from their group, let alone gone on to win the competition.
It isn’t just in terms of his goal contributions that Milner makes a discernible impact for the Reds, either.
He won two tackles per game last season, a figure bettered by only three of his team-mates. One of those was Naby Keita, who had two successful tackles in the Community Shield. Liverpool’s three starting midfielders – Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum, had one each.
The returns of Milner and Mane should offer much encouragement to Klopp ahead of tonight’s Premier League opener.
Milner has shown that he can make decisive contributions to Liverpool, scoring 16 of the 18 penalties he has taken for the Reds, as well as being a tough-tackling presence in the centre of midfield, from where he made 20 of his 31 league appearances last season, so his return provides Liverpool with a big boost.
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