No one ever expected James Milner to captain Liverpool FC as much has he will end up doing this season, but with Jordan Henderson out with a foot injury, the ex-Manchester City man has had to step up in his absence. A few poor performances from Milner of late mirrored Liverpool's own lack of success, but both the man and his club stepped up their game against Aston Villa on Saturday.
"It was really important we started well," said Milner on the goal that opened both his account for Liverpool and the game's scoring just one minute into the match. "Having extra-time just on Wednesday and playing on Saturday afternoon, it is a quick turnaround and takes a lot out of you.
"We're a bit disappointed to concede a couple goals but I think it shows the character in the squad. Being a couple of goals up and conceding one, we didn't go into our shells, we went right down the other end and got on the front foot and scored again."
Aston Villa never drew level with Liverpool at any point in the match, though their refusal to give up without a fight led to some cagey moments for the home team. Milner's assessment of his team's Character™ highlights one of the key differences between this Liverpool performance and others: an actual drive to keep enough distance between themselves and their opposition.
Too many times this season have Liverpool gone behind and failed to look anything like equalising. Though they were never behind to Villa on Saturday, that didn't stop the quest for goals and a Daniel Sturridge brace ensured the job got finished. Liverpool will need to take that determination and harness it for matches against tougher opposition if they'd like to keep this winning streak going.