Liverpool returned to winning ways in the Premier League against Bournemouth on Saturday.
In truth, the Reds had effectively wrapped up the title a few months ago, but that didn’t stop alarm bells from ringing when they lost their unbeaten run to Watford in an embarrassing 3-0 defeat.
Nevertheless, normal service was resumed this weekend when goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane cancelled out Callum Wilson’s early, as well as controversial, opening strike.
And Liverpool couldn’t have racked up the three points if it wasn’t for their captain on the day James Milner, who made a stunning goal-line clearance to deny Ryan Fraser in the second-half.
Milner shines vs Bournemouth
The former England international also executed 2/2 tackles, completed 2/4 long passes, won 2/2 aerial duels, maintained 86% pass accuracy and even had a shot on target for good measure.
That’s pretty impressive when you consider it was Milner’s first 90 minutes in the Premier League for over two months and one in which he played out of position at left-back.
However, it wasn’t just Milner’s influence over Liverpool on the pitch that made such an impact because the 34-year-old was seen making his presence known before the game too.
Milner’s rallying cry
With the captain’s armband in his possession in Jordan Henderson’s absence, Milner was seen giving a rallying cry to his Liverpool teammates while they were doing their stretches.
The BT Sport cameras and microphones picked up the team-talk with brilliant clarity and it must have played a role in the Reds shaking off their run of defeats just minutes later.
Milner ordered: “As soon as we lose [the ball], there’s bodies round it and then we play out that area – everything we do [should be at the] highest tempo today.
“It doesn’t matter who scores. They score, we score – we lift it again. Every kick off is a trigger for us.”
Every team needs a Milner, don’t they?
Milner ageing like a fine wine
It’s incredible to think that Milner once started out as an attacking winger at Leeds United and now he’s playing at left-back for one of the greatest teams in Premier League history.
You’ve got to applaud Milner for adapting his game in accordance with age in a similar vein to Cristiano Ronaldo, albeit with half the ability (sorry, James), to keep himself at the top level.
And, of course, it showed his leadership skills as a captain, which were also apparent when he helped inspire Liverpool’s youngsters to victory over Shrewsbury Town despite not making the squad.
So, another win and another step closer to an inevitable Premier League title that will make the twilight years of Milner’s career taste extra sweet.
- Klopp celebrates in front of linesman
- Liverpool furious with Bournemouth goal
- Milner’s insane goal-line clearance