James Milner issues rallying call for Liverpool’s midfield support act

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James Milner thinks Liverpool should have been more ruthless with their finishing against Tottenham—but says it’s not just down to the front three to find the back of the net.

The Reds remained perfect after their trip to Wembley in terms of league form, making it five wins from five at the start of the season.

A 2-1 weekend win over Spurs was the biggest result of all thus far, but in truth the Reds should have been out of sight long before the home team’s consolation goal in stoppage time.

Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Mo Salah and others all spurned chances to extend Liverpool’s lead, before Erik Lamela lashed home late on to give Spurs hope.

Before that, though, it was Gini Wijnaldum who had finally and deservedly opened the scoring—despite being the deepest of the midfield trio in the starting lineup.

Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team gates during the Premier League match at Wembley Stadium, London. ( Adam Davy/PA Wire/PA Images)

Wijnaldum has shown previously he has an eye for goal, but this was his first away strike in the Premier League and Milner says that all the midfielders have to step up their output to take the load of the front three.

“He’s [Wijnaldum] a goalscorer, he’s shown that before and he’s pretty good with his head so it was nice for him to score and that’s what we need as well,” the vice-captain told Liverpoolfc.com.

“Obviously we had a lot of goals from the front boys [last season] and I’m sure we will again this year, but it’s important that we try to take as much pressure off them as we can and contribute with goals all over the field.”

Jurgen Klopp‘s side spurned chances aplenty, which infuriated the boss on the touchline and doubtless the players on the pitch, but Milner says the team should take heart from how they were created.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 15, 2018: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (right) and Tottenham Hotspur's Toby Alderweireld (left) during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A high press, a quick transition and the ability to take advantage from Spurs’ own sloppy play consistently led to shots on goal coming in.

“We should’ve been more ruthless than we were in attack I think, with the amount of chances we had, it was just that last decision, whether to pass or shoot and maybe being a bit more patient.

“But I think it was pleasing the amount of balls we won in their half, that was a lot better than it has been in the other away performances.

“I think we defended well in the other games, but I think as a team from the front today was a lot better and that turned into chances going forward.”

Liverpool failed to win at any of the other top six teams last season, so taking three points at Wembley—the scene of a heavy defeat a year ago—cannot be anything but appreciated.

And Milner says that while the scoreline didn’t reflect his team’s dominance, three points is all that matters, especially against a perceived rival.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 15, 2018: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embraces captain Jordan Henderson as they celebrate after the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Nowhere [in the Premier League] is easy to go. This is such a tough place to come as well, they’re such a good team, so it was always going to be tough,” the midfielder said.

“But we just had to get that result and grind it out towards the end. It’s slightly disappointing we conceded when we could have been out of sight really, but you never sniff at any win in the Premier League.”

Next up for the Reds is the Champions League and Paris Saint-Germain, and Milner will hope to play a big role in the competition this year, just as he did last term in the knock-out stage in particular.

His message over a more clinical edge and players from all areas of the team contributing to goalscoring is vital, however, and the Reds will need to show that ruthless ability against the Continent’s top sides.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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