Liverpool’s James Milner has been defying age and physics this past week, putting in dynamo performances both in the Reds’ 3-0 victory over Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League tie, as well as in the more staid 0-0 stalemate against Everton at Goodison Park yesterday. Jürgen Klopp will need Milner to draw on those seemingly inexhaustible reserves yet again midweek when Liverpool travel to the Etihad.
With a solid lead from the first leg, a mounting injury crisis, and fatigued players, one might expect Liverpool, under different circumstances, to approach the upcoming clash with City in a more conservative fashion. But that hasn’t generally been a winning strategy against Pep Guardiola’s side, however vulnerable they might be at this time, and it certainly isn’t Jürgen Klopp’s preferred style.
As reported via multiple outlets including the Independent, the Mail, and others, Milner expects to be tasked with keeping the tempo up at the Etihad, in the hope of nicking one or more precious away goals against a less-than-impregnable City back line.
“They are a top team, we know that,” said Milner about his former team. “There are a lot of things which could affect it but we are in a good position.”
The Liverpool midfielder insisted that despite the strong showing from the first leg, Klopp’s side would approach the contest tabula rasa - as if it were a single match tie.
“They are such a good team and have such good players going forward we want to approach it as we approach every game, try and win the game and approach it as a one-off and play the match over 90 minutes,” he added. “We’ve got a 3-0 advantage at half-time so it’s down to us not to sit back and be on the front foot.”
The question of course is whether Liverpool will be able to summon the same level of intensity, given their fitness concerns and the level of exertion this past week.
“My running numbers are pretty consistent throughout the year, we get them regularly but I think it was slightly higher the other night (against City),” noted Milner.
”That is part of the midfield job and it’s been part of my game being able to cover ground and it is something that’s needed in this team.”
Whatever it is that the Melwood kitchen staff have been feeding Milner, they probably need to double up on his portions over the next few days.