Along with Arsenal, they are the in-form team in the Premier League and are now widely expected to win the title next year. However, Jurgen Klopp’s men are still very much in the conversation, with the Reds securing a surprising 1-0 win.
Considering their form of the last few years, it shouldn’t be a shock result, but this is a Liverpool side who have been rather poor all season long.
Indeed, before their clash with City today, the Merseysiders hadn’t won in three Premier League fixtures and were sat on just ten points.
They are now three points better off but crucially, the mood and atmosphere inside Anfield has changed. This will be an enormous confidence-boosting win and they did it without some key characters too, with Joel Matip and Luis Diaz injured, while Trent Alexander-Arnold was only fit enough for the bench.
Alexander-Arnold’s deputy happened to be 36-year-old veteran James Milner, a man of sublime versatility.
The former City man has played in a number of positions for Klopp, notably in central midfield and even at left-back. However, trusted at right-back today, it was – in the words of podcasters EPL Index – “his best performance in years.”
That feels like a strong statement but given the position he was playing in, Liverpool’s form and their opposition, it was a display that really saw Milner roll back the years.
He was outstanding in defence, demonstrating his composure and strength despite playing against some of the best attacking players on the planet.
During the course of the game, the former England international won 100% of his aerial duels (3/3) and was successful in a high percentage of his ground duels too (2/3).
His pass accuracy of 60% from his 53 touches may not look too glamorous but this was a gritty performance, rather than one that required grace and poise from the defender, hence his inability to complete an accurate cross, an area where Alexander-Arnold thrives in.
The youngster has been singled out for his questionable defensive attributes this term but there was no such concern with Milner at the back.
His performance in defence was exceptional, as he won two tackles and also completed four clearances, with Liverpool keeping a rare clean sheet in their biggest game of the campaign to date.
Indeed, Micah Richards summed it up brilliantly on Sky Sports’ coverage of the game, saying post-match: “Milner was excellent, his positioning, knowing where to be, knowing when to press, he was a leader. I don’t know when his last 90 minutes was, against City as well.”
When supporters saw the veteran’s name on the team sheet this afternoon, many will have been fearful for what should have been a long afternoon for the 5 foot 9 full-back. Instead, he rose to the occasion and typified what was a lionhearted victory.
Mo Salah’s winning goal was incredibly special, but without Milner, perhaps life wouldn’t have been as easy against Erling Haaland and co.