TWO-goal hero James Milner reckons this Liverpool is “completely different” to the Reds side that struggled for consistency in the last campaign.
The vice-captain coolly slotted two penalties in Liverpool’s 5-1 win over Hull City at Anfield on Saturday — a fourth win in six Premier League matches, with the 2-0 loss at Burnley the only blot on Jürgen Klopp side’s record.
Last season many fans pointed the finger at the Reds for raising their game for the big matches but struggling to put away lesser teams, especially at home.
That does not appear to be the case so far as Hull, reduced to 10 men when Ahmed Elmohamady was sent off midway through the first half, were swept away with ease.
“We knew that is where we could improve against teams that sit back a bit more but I’m seeing a different team this year, completely different to last year,” Milner said.
“The performance in every game, you know it is us that you were playing — even Burnley wasn’t too bad a performance, it was the final third that let us down. I think maybe last year some games we would play like we wanted to play and other games we wouldn’t.
“Consistency has been really good and you look down the squad list and the quality is unbelievable.”
Milner believes the strengthening Klopp did in the summer, bringing in seven new faces, has made a huge difference.
“If you don’t perform the shirt will be taken off you and someone will else get the chance and you don’t know how long they will have that shirt,” he told LFC TV.
“That is really pleasing. You need that competition for places to drive each other on and hopefully we can keep improving as a team.”
Milner is something of a lucky charm when it comes to the Premier League.
No club he has played for has ever lost when he has scored but, remarkably, his penalty double against Hull was the first time in his career he had scored twice in a league match.
His role has changed significantly this season as he has been asked to fill in at left-back because of the erratic performances of Alberto Moreno but, ever the professional, the 30-year-old has adapted particularly well.
“It is good, what I thought would happen when he plays the role,” was Klopp’s assessment.
“We didn’t want to make him a left full-back and think ‘Probably he will struggle’. That was a really good performance. He was not a left full-back in the last season.”
Milner’s displays have been so good it has had the desired effect on his only rival for the spot.
“One of the best players in training in the last few weeks is Alberto Moreno,” Klopp said.
“He took the situation brilliantly and responded. It is all good.”
Liverpool swept aside Hull in 19 first-half minutes as Adam Lallana, Milner — scoring after Elmohamady was sent off for handball —and Sadio Mane converted three of the many chances created.
Substitute David Meyler’s goal just after the break was cancelled out immediately by a screamer from Philippe Coutinho before Milner rounded things off after Daniel Sturridge, with his first involvement after coming off the bench, won another penalty.
Hull — and caretaker manager Mike Phelan — had no answer.
“You always take positives and negatives from everything. I can look at decision-making, selection and what we can do better,” said Phelan.
“It is open to everyone’s opinion if we could have attacked more or defended better but when you go to down to 10 men it changes everything.”