Milner: "Liverpool proved we can grind out gritty wins with Swansea win"

James Milner believes Liverpool's 1-0 win over Swansea City on Sunday afternoon ideally demonstrated that they can grind out results.

The midfielder scored in his second successive game in all competitions, and his third of the season, when he despatched from the penalty spot after 62 minutes.

But though the Reds made it back-to-back league wins for the first time under Jürgen Klopp's management, they were far from their best.

A contentious Anthony Taylor decision to adjudge Neil Taylor's block to a Jordon Ibe cross as handball at the Kop end leading them to the only goal of the game. 

Otherwise, Liverpool largely struggled to carve their way through a well-organised Swansea defence - creating very few clear opportunities throughout a closely-fought encounter.

Win against Swansea was vitally important, Milner says

Nevertheless, the win took Milner and co. within just six points of first-place in the Barclays Premier League going into December and the midfielder says they should take great credit for the way they achieved victory.

Milner admitted that "with the conditions" it was always going to be difficult and not "the prettiest of games" - suggesting the wind and rain made it harder for himself and his team-mates to move the ball as well as they "would've liked normally."

He told Liverpoolfc.com that "the main thing" was getting the three points - which was "the only thing that mattered" - saying it would have been a waste of last weekend's win, where they outclassed Manchester City in a 4-1 thriller, if they didn't "follow it up."

The England international lauded how important it is "just to get the three points" insisting that teams "aren't always going to play well" which makes the games where you're not on top form, when the conditions are a "bit blowy" and a "bit colder" or when the pitch is "bobbly" then teams "need to show that fight."

He added that not every game "can be the perfect match" where they can "pass, pass and pass" - so said it was "pleasing" to see a grittier side from the team, which he says they will need throughout the course of a "long season."

Milner says Reds can target strong run of form through Christmas period

The win meant that Liverpool have won six of their last seven fixtures in all competitions and edge closer to the hectic festive fixture period in good position to take advantage of any slip-ups of the sides ahead of them.

Having survived all seven away games against champions Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Man City, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City with just one defeat - compared to five losses at the same stadiums last season - Milner believes the Reds should be aiming to begin racking up the points throughout a slightly kinder, but busier, list of fixtures over the next couple of months.

Milner, citing the games they have already played, said they have played "a lot of tough teams away from home" and said it is "obviously nice" to get them out of the way and go into a "busy period" in "good form."

He explained that, with "so many games" over Christmas, the league table "changes a lot" - saying he hopes it will "change for the better" as Liverpool "keep moving up, working hard, and improving."

Milner elated to have "top players" back and fit

Klopp's squad will be strengthened by the returns of both Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson, who came off the bench to feature in the win over the Swans, playing their first minutes under the German manager.

The introduction of the latter meant that Milner was forced to give up the armband he had worn in his compatriot's absence, but he had no hard feelings - explaining his delight at seeing the England duo back in action.

The Reds' No.7 said it was "amazing" to see two "top players" back in the side - insisting that "any team in the league" would miss players of their calibre and calling it "great" to have them back in contention.

On having to relieve his duties of captain, he added that it has been a "great honour" to lead the club - but said he is "delighted" to pass it on because it means a "top player" in Henderson is back in the squad.

Milner added that the returns of the duo "shows the depth" available to Klopp, highlighting the strength they had on the bench against Swansea - even though "a number of players" are still out.

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