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Match-winning midfield mix highlights Klopp’s capacity to keep Liverpool challenging

Match-winning midfield mix highlights Klopp’s capacity to keep Liverpool challenging
The two most in-form central options were rotated but the Reds controlled the game regardless

Unless it’s regarding his antics on Twitter, it hasn’t been fashionable to praise ジェイムズミルナー for quite some time now.

もちろん, there were platitudes when he reached the 700-game milestone, while there are always vague sounds of not-quite-explained appreciation for such attributes as experience, stamina and leadership, but precious little in terms of actual performances.

In part that’s because he simply doesn’t get in the Liverpool team very much any more of course, but at the same time it’s fair to note that on occasion when he has been involvedagainst Benfica for examplethe level he’s shown on the pitch hasn’t been up to standards set by Fabinho and Co.

Against Newcastle in Liverpool’s dominant, but ultimately narrow 1-0 勝利, most of the above changed.

Milner started, Milner played 77 minutes and Milner was largely very good.

This was the most game time he had seen in the Premier League since 19 12月, and he certainly made the most of it with some near-constant involvement in what was a crucial win for both the Reds’ ongoing title hopes and the improbable scenario of them winning all four trophies.

The No7 was front and centre when the game’s opening goal went in, crunching into a challenge to win back possession, which ended a few seconds later in the back of the net.

Raw stats don’t often tell the story of Milner’s modus operandi but here they at least paint the picture of how prominent he was: Nobody created more shooting chances than him, nobody made as many tackles and nobody had more touches of the ball, even though he wasn’t on the field for the entire 90’.

This was a notable showing from Milner and it came on an occasion that the Reds really needed it: a quick two-and-a-half day turnaround after a Champions League semi-final, with more rotations made by Jurgen Klopp as a result than has habitually been the case of late.

Another of those rotations was the most crucial of all as it turned out: Naby Keita, the game’s best performer by a distance and the match-winner too, as it turned out.

The latter part was perhaps slightly more due to Martin Dubravka’s great recent form continuing, plus some unusually profligate behaviour from Mssrs. たてがみ, ディアス, Salah and Jota, but it was still the most crucial aspect of the game in the end.

Keita’s composure in rounding Dubravka and beating the defenders on the line was matched by his tenacity in ball-winning, tracking Allan Saint-Maximin and being the Reds’ frequent initial out-ball in counter-pressing moments.

The No8 has enjoyed his best run of form and involvement since joining the Reds over the last two-and-a-half months or so.

Finally appearing to be over his regular fitness concerns and absences, he has dovetailed with Jordan Henderson for the third midfield spot with regularity, though both started on this occasion as it was instead the two guaranteed startersFabinho and Thiago Alcantarawho started on the bench and came on later.

Given their absence, the changes to personnel and even role in Henderson’s case, and it’s testament to both the team’s training and quality that they still utterly dominated this fixture, to the tune of 24 shots to four and 65% 所持.

And perhaps that’s the more notable aspect of this three points: the manager’s ability to manage the squad, keep those on the sidelines not only happy but also engaged enough to produce performances when needed, そして まだ get the points.

Keita has been in and out, some might say. The other view is that he has been a regular in a team going for all honours. The club captainplus Diaz and Jota and several othersare similarly juggled for maximum impact.

Milner’sand that of Joe Gomez, who was also very good on the daysituation is different and hints at that ability of the manager’s to really integrate and invigorate the entire group. That energising has to be constant, and perhaps innovative at times too.

Klopp signing a new contract at Anfield was an unexpected and huge boost for the supporters, and perhaps the timing is entirely coincidental.

After a run of several huge gamescup semis, derbies, ライバル, European nightsthere was a minor danger that this fixture (against the league’s most in-form side no less, on a four-game basis) might have been seen as slightlymundane.

Early, league game, あちらへ, mid-table opponent. Title challenge, はい, but still not a fixture of as much prominence as those beforehand had been.

多分, かもしれないだけ, Klopp felt a timely boost would provide the extra energy and focus required with those extra changes incoming. A similar number of switches might be expected in midweek, as the quadruple challenge reverts to Liverpool’s strongest line-up.