The way manager Jurgen Klopp has rotated and utilised his ‘back-up’ players across this season, even when the Africa Cup of Nations hasn’t been on and injuries haven’t been too much of an issue has been thoroughly impressive – particularly as there is seemingly no unrest in the dressing room.
It’s not often now that you can find a group of players who are all willing to play whatever part they can for their team, whether it be from the bench, the pitch – or even just as a dressing room leader, a role James Milner has taken on with an exemplary attitude.
Despite his contract due to expire at the end of the season, the 36-year-old has started just ten of those games, but has repeatedly put in the typical hard-working ‘dirty-work’ he has become known for.
In just 40 minutes against Chelsea, Milner won back possession three times, as well as winning 60% of his duels and completing 82% of his passes to help break up any kind of momentum the Blues were attempting to build.
The game also provided a clear indication that despite the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain potentially possessing a little more technical ability and flair in the midfield spot, the veteran still has what it takes to make him one of the most important players in the Liverpool team.
A clip of a mid-game tussle involving exciting young prospect Harvey Elliott caught fans attention, as while some of his teammates went to back-up the starlet, Milner pulled the 18-year-old away, with one fan comparing him to ‘an angry parent’.
After scoring his penalty, Milner remained calm when Kepa Arrizabalaga missed his all-important spot-kick, potentially already casting his mind to the club’s next game.
Along with captain Jordan Henderson, the £1.8m-rated midfielder was then described as ‘pure class’ by the tournament’s official social media channels after consoling each Chelsea player at the end of the game.
With young players like Curtis Jones, Tyler Morton and Elliott coming through in his position, it’s not only important that Liverpool renew Milner’s contract, but continue giving him minutes on the field, so he can continue being the perfect role model for those players alongside him.