James Milner lauds Liverpool defensive effort after Stoke win

The new Reds vice-captain has praised the club’s back four after the slender 1-0 victory at the Britannia Stadium.

Liverpool midfielder James Milner has picked out the team’s back four for specific praise after the Merseysiders opened their Premier League campaign with a 1-0 win away at Stoke, as per the club’s official website.

Brendan Rodgers reverted to a back four, with 18-year-old Joe Gomez making his top-flight debut at left-back and Nathaniel Clyne getting his bow on the other flank.

Under-fire defender Dejan Lovren partnered Martin Skrtel in the heart of the visiting rearguard, which collectively managed to inhibit the hosts’ chances over the course of 90 combative minutes.

Milner, who has been selected as the Anfield club’s vice-captain despite only signing in the summer, was full of praise for all of the defence after their efforts in keeping the Potters at bay.

“We have got a lot of quality going forward, but a lot of credit goes to the whole team and the back four,” the former Manchester City and Aston Villa star told the Reds’ official website.

“Clyney looks like he’s been here for 10 years; Joe coming in for his first game in the Premier League playing against [Jonathan] Walters, who is an experienced pro, very clever and a tough player to play against – I thought he was outstanding and did a great job.

“The two centre-halves were brave and kept a really good line. That makes all the difference for us as a midfield and a team, keeping us high. I thought the boys at the back were brilliant.”

The game looked like it was destined for a stalemate, only for Philippe Coutinho to come up with a wonder strike in the dying minutes to allow the visitors to return home to Merseyside with all three points.

After a summer of upheaval in the transfer market, Rodgers’ men are expected to push for a top four berth this season and a return to Champions League football.

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