26 February 2023

James Milner admits it is ‘strange’ to see Liverpool seventh in the table

26 February 2023

Liverpool midfielder James Milner confessed it feels strange for his side to be so far down the table just three months out from the conclusion to the Premier League season.

The seventh-placed Reds have picked up just eight points in seven top-flight games since the start of the new year, and Saturday’s goalless draw with Crystal Palace was hardly the comeback statement Liverpool would have chosen after their 5-2 Champions League collapse to Real Madrid.

The 2019-20 champions host Wolves on Wednesday before Manchester United make the trip to Anfield in a week Milner hopes could spark a redemptive run for the Reds.

“Every week is a big week,” he told the club’s official website. “We want to finish the season strongly. It feels a bit strange because normally at this stage of the season you’re probably a bit further in, but there’s so many games to go.

“It’s important when we’re not getting results that we shake ourselves off, don’t get too down and disappointed about it. There has been some good performances in there recently.

“There was a great 40 minutes or first half against Madrid, a couple of sloppy goals but other than that it was a good 45 minutes. You come away second half and all the good things are forgotten about. It’s important that we remember there has been some good signs over the last few weeks.”

That Liverpool did not concede on Saturday was as much a product of Palace’s ongoing finishing woes as it was the visitors’ ability to fend off the Eagles’ attack. Twice Trent Alexander-Arnold was caught slacking and breathed a sigh of relief when Jean-Philippe Mateta caught the crossbar late in the first half, the hosts’ best chance of the evening.

Alexander-Arnold also had an opportunity to break the deadlock in the first period but watched his free-kick, destined for the top-right corner, instead take a deflection off the unfortunate Jordan Henderson in a spot-on summation of luck very much not being on Liverpool’s side.

Milner admitted those moments grated more given their recent form, adding: “I think obviously when things aren’t going your way there’s obviously a loss of confidence. When things are going well in a general period and you have a game where you hit the post and it doesn’t go in or you misplace a pass, it doesn’t affect you as much, you shake it off and go again.

“Obviously at this moment in time with the confidence a bit lower and a few bad experiences, it probably gets us down a bit more than it should do at this moment in time.”

While Mateta’s effort was the Eagles’ best chance of pulling ahead, it was Michael Olise who often looked brightest for Palace who have now played out five draws in 2023 but are still searching for their first victory of the new year.

Boss Patrick Vieira said: “He was really important for us when we were in possession and he creates those opportunities, those chances for us and that was, I believe, one of his most complete games.

“Even defensively he was working really well, he was really smart, the way that he was defending. He is growing and that is really good for us.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox