Liverpool star James Milner had an excellent official debut as he shone in his new central midfield role during the Reds’ 1-0 victory at Stoke City on Sunday.
The Merseysiders opened their season at the same place in which they concluded their previous campaign, although this time around they were fared much better.
During that 6-1 defeat at the Britannia Stadium in May, the Reds were simply bullied by the host and appeared extremely weak down the spine if the team.
A new midfielder was needed this summer to replace departed skipper Steven Gerrard, and bringing in Milner on a free could turn out to be a masterstoke by boss Brendan Rodgers.
The England international was often played out on the wing at Manchester City, but his defensive capabilities and renowned energy make him the ideal candidate for Liverpool’s midfield.
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As per the table provided by Opta Stats, Milner excelled in the centre alongside Jordan Henderson and provided plenty of protection in front of the defence.
The 29-year-old contributed with a total of two tackles, five defensive duel winners and four ball recoveries as the Potters struggled to mount any serious attacks on the visitors.
Milner’s ability on the ball never really stood out at City among the likes of David Silva and Samir Nasri, but it’s an underrated attribute of his game and that was clear on Sunday as he retained possession with ease.
In what was an otherwise quite dull encounter, there were plenty of positives for the Reds as they escaped with the three points and looked fairly assured throughout from a defensive perspective.