Liverpool’s Monday night win over Crystal Palace was gritty rather than expansive, but it takes all sorts to win titles, says James Milner.
The Reds’ No. 7 scored the opening goal from the penalty spot before half-time, but was much more heavily involved from a defensive standpoint after the break.
Palace pushed Liverpool back for large spells of the second 45 and, rather than play their usual offensive-minded, free-flowing football, Jurgen Klopp‘s team had to dig in and show their resilience.
It was a pleasing display in that sense, with both new goalkeeper Alisson Becker and the new centre-back partnership of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk excelling.
And Milner says that the Reds need to be capable of taking victory against all kinds of opponents, not just those who let them play their game easily.
“A win is a win. That’s something we have to work on: winning all different types of games,” he said to Liverpoolfc.com.
“We know that and it was never going to be easy.
“But this is a tough place to come. I don’t think many people come here and have an easy night, that’s for sure, so it was a good performance in the end just to get the result.”
After the game, manager Klopp admitted he was pleased with the defensive work of the team, but less-so with their on-the-ball work.
Milner agrees that was the case, with the Reds failing to assert themselves at times—but that they have such faith in the attackers that the team knew another goal was always possible.
“Obviously we thought we could play better but also we wanted to control the game a bit better in the second half when we were in front.
“I don’t think we did that as well as we should have done. But it’s about getting the win and the clean sheet, which was pleasing and so important.
“We know with the players that we have got going forward if we keep those clean sheets then we’ve got every chance of nicking a goal at the other end.
“So it comes from the ‘keeper and all the way through the back four and all the way through the team and the way we play, everyone defends together, so we are very pleased to get the clean sheet and the three points were so important, it gets us off to a good start.”
With Ragnar Klavan having departed the club, Milner is now comfortably the oldest player at the club at age 32. Only Simon Mignolet and Adam Lallana join him in having passed the 30 milestone, but Milner will turn 33 before either of them have their next birthday.
However, his early season performances have showcased the same incredible stamina levels from the midfielder, who says he’s not exactly feeling his age.
“I’m going to have to take the old jokes – I’m used to deflecting the flak onto him [Klavan] but now I’m on my own!
“I feel really good and, like I said before, if I can survive a Jurgen Klopp pre-season you must be feeling alright, so I’m doing alright.”
Two games in, two starts, one goal and one assist: it’s clear Milner will play a big role across the entirety of this season once again.