Liverpool's James Milner v West Ham United's Cheikhou Kouyate

How do Liverpool’s James Milner and West Ham United’s Cheikhou Kouyate compare this season?

Liverpool host West Ham United at Anfield this weekend in a Premier League clash which will pit talented midfielders Cheikhou Kouyate and James Milner against each other.

The latter joined Liverpool from Manchester City on a free transfer this summer, a move which was sparked by the England international’s desire to play in a more central role.

So far this season, boss Brendan Rodgers has positioned Milner in a compact midfield-three alongside the likes of Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho and lately Emre Cana and Lucas Leiva.

Milner’s ensuing performances have been superb, but how does he compare with another dominant midfielder in the form of upcoming West Ham opponent Kouyate?

  Def Duel Winners per GameClearances per GameInterceptions per GameBall Recoveries per GameTouches per GameAccurate Passes per GameKey Passes per GameAppearances
Cheikhou Kouyaté 5.67 0.33 2 5 47.67 21.33 1 3
James Milner 4.67 1 0.33 8.33 71.67 46 1.33 3

According to the table provided by Opta Stats, the duo compare relatively well but it is Milner who comes out on top – outperforming his upcoming opponent in five of the seven key midfield categories.

The duo both excel in different defensive-minded areas, with Milner averaging more clearances and ball recoveries while Kouyate has posted more defensive duel winners and interceptions per match.

However, Milner is undoubtedly the more assured player with the ball – averaging more touches, accurate passes and key passes per Premier League encounter.

Aside from having an impressive engine, Liverpool’s summer recruit’s ability with the ball is vastly underrated and he has all the tools necessary to establish himself as a classy central midfielder.

The 29-year-old suffered somewhat at City due to the heavy competition for places, but at Anfield he is already deemed a first-team regular and his importance in the middle is now beginning to show.

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