James Milner: Competition for places in Liverpool squad inspiring high quality performances

James Milner: Competition for places in Liverpool squad inspiring high quality performances

Liverpool's James Milner, currently still deputising as a left-back for Jürgen Klopp's side, believes the squad depth available to the manager has helped motivate the players to perform as well as they have in recent games.

Charlie Malam

Liverpool's strength in depth has been key  to their fine start to the season, insists James Milner after their 5-1 thrashing of Hull City made it four successive wins in all competitions.

The Englishman continued his role as left-back but had as little to do as he might ever as the Reds dominated from start to finish at Anfield.

Adam Lallana opened the scoring, before Milner confidently despatched a penalty after Ahmed Elmohamady saw red for handling Philippe Coutinho's shot on the line.

Sadio Mane made it 3-0 before the break, before David Meyler pulled one back by slamming in after a corner early on in the second-half.

But Coutinho's immediate response restored the hosts' three-goal lead inside a minute and Milner buried another penalty after substitute Daniel Sturridge was tripped in front of the Kop end.

That fired Liverpool up into the top-four to continue what has been a fine start to the Premier League campaign besides a blip at Burnley last month.

Milner hailed the "quality" within the squad as "unbelievable" and added: "You see the bench and some boys have been injured, some players aren't in the squad, and [there are] the young boys who are knocking around the squad with such quality."

He called the options available to Jürgen Klopp "pleasing" and declared that the players know if they "don't perform" then "the shirt is going to be taken off you and someone else is going to get the chance."

The 30-year-old said that such competition for places, and the fact that the squad "don't know how long" their replacements are "going to have that shirt for" helps to "drive each other on" and hopes that they can "keep improving as a team."

Milner lauds "really good" display against Hull

Hull couldn't live with the fluidity and precision of Liverpool's attacks in a pulsating first-half, which could have seen the home side rack up much more than the three goals they managed by the interval.

Milner hailed the performance of his teammates across the pitch, as he spoke about their defensive solidity as well as their form further forward.

"I thought it was a really good performance," he told Liverpoolfc.com, citing the "created chances" and his belief that they "looked really solid" and the "boys at the back were brilliant."

Milner spoke about the two centre-backs Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip and the impact they had "when the ball was popping out", calling their positioning "fantastic" as it allowed them to keep "on the attack."

He also praised captain Jordan Henderson for constantly winning the second balls, as he said that even when they "were well up" they "kept moving the ball easy and quickly" and were "looking for that pass" as opposed to "trying to force it."

Milner felt that aspect of the performance was "pleasing" and insisted the "quality players" that Liverpool have mean they will always created chances which others are "going to take."

Englishman hoping to maintain spot-kick success 

Milner's spot-kick brace meant that his 100 per-cent record from penalties remains since joining from Manchester City last summer, having scored all six.

It all continued the fine record that Milner boasts of having never lost a Premier League game in which he has scored, winning 35 and drawing eight of the 43 games he has scored in.

Only former City and Aston Villa striker Darius Vassell has a better record, scoring in 46 games without defeat, and Milner insisted that it is "always nice" to "get on the scoresheet."

He hoped that "they keep going in" as he hailed the "dribblers" within the Liverpool team, insisting that opposing defences "can't really touch them" once they "get in the box."

The Reds' No.7 acknowledged that training "against these boys" with "the feet they have got" is "pretty difficult at times", adding: "Hopefully the penalties keep going in."