James Milner insists Liverpool’s will to win cannot be called into question as an increasingly threadbare squad makes a final push for Champions League football.
Saturday’s 2-1 win at Stoke, having been 1-0 down at half-time, was the sort of match the Reds have had a habit of losing in recent years.
Manager Jurgen Klopp was without several first-choice players through injury, and brought on Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino from the bench despite neither being fully fit. But both scored in the comeback victory.
The result felt like a significant one, and Milner said it demonstrated the determination within the dressing room to secure their primary aim of a top-four Premier League finish.
“That is one thing that can never be thrown at this squad, that we lack desire and a will to win and the attitude to come back again,” the midfielder said.
“We have done it many times and that belief to keep going and get three points is there.
“The treatment table is a busy place at the moment, unfortunately, but we have proved by winning [at Stoke] that the squad is there.
“We have injuries all over the place—it is that time of the year—and you just have to suck it up and keep going.
“I say the desire and heart from the squad is always there. We just need that consistency.”
Manchester United’s 3-0 win at Sunderland on Sunday, coupled with Arsenal‘s loss at Crystal Palace on Monday by the same scoreline, left Jose Mourinho’s fifth-placed side—six points behind Klopp’s men with two matches in hand—as the biggest threat to the Reds’ top-four hopes.
But, despite Palace doing them a favour—and many Liverpool fans hoping leaders Chelsea will follow suit at Old Trafford on Sunday—Milner stressed they cannot afford to rely on their chasing rivals dropping points.
“The position we are in means it is irrelevant what other teams think and do,” he said.
“We know that if we do the business in our remaining games, it will be good enough, I am sure.
“It is down to us. We don’t want to get sidetracked or have to worry about other results. Hopefully we can take care of business ourselves.”