This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
The scoreline may have only been 2-1, but don’t be fooled – Liverpool dominated their match against Genk in the Champions League and fully deserved their victory.
Once the game had finished, they had 71% of the ball compared to their opponents’ 29%, whilst they had 28 shots to six. It was as straightforward a victory as one can expect in this most elite of club competitions, and the Belgian side can be thankful that the Reds were not in more clinical form.
Jurgen Klopp rang the changes to his side for this clash – six to be exact, whilst he also used some players in different positions. One of those was James Milner, who appeared here at left-back as Andrew Robertson started on the bench.
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It is a position he has played in just 44 times – as per Transfermarkt – but he looked comfortable there against the Belgian champions.
Going forward, he proved to be a constant threat to De Smurfen, creating a game-high five chances for his teammates. Only four crosses were landed throughout the match, but the 33-year-old landed one of them. He also made 86% of the passes he attempted.
Defensively, he also proved to be solid, winning two tackles and making one clearance. Also, he was not beaten even once by the visitors’ players, whilst he also prevailed in six of the seven duels he contested.
Considering he is seen as Mr. Reliable, we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised that he excelled in an unfamiliar position, or at least less familiar than elsewhere.
However, with Robertson needing to be fresh before the huge Premier League match against Manchester City, Klopp used the only real alternative he has in that position.
That is why, even at his age, £13.5m-valued Milner – as per Transfermarkt – is worth his weight in gold.
It is hard to think of a more versatile player in England, and there is surely nobody who will play in a different role with minimum fuss and such competence. As the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah grab headlines, the former England international goes about his game calmly and professionally. Although he is not a guaranteed starter, he is amongst the most indispensable players in the whole squad.