Mon. Feb 18th, 2019

James Milner SHUNS talk Liverpool are bottling title under Manchester City pressure

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Monday night’s draw at West Ham means the Reds have dropped seven points from their last five games, more than they did in the previous 20 matches.

It also means Manchester City could inflict a huge psychological blow by going above them if they beat Everton at Goodison Park tonight.

But Milner insists Jurgen Klopp’s men are not feeling the pressure – as real pressure is fighting against relegation, not trying to win the title.

He said: “Am I concerned being top of the league in February? No, I’m happy.

“The pressure is irrelevant really. You take care of your own games. If someone said we’d be three points clear at this stage of the season you’d have taken it.

“There were people saying at the start of the season that City are the best team the Premier League has ever seen and stuff like that, so to be just close to them is good for us.

“We just want to concentrate on our games. Playing for relegation and livelihoods and people’s jobs, that’s pressure. Being at the top of the table, we should be enjoying it.”

Milner experienced the joy of winning the league twice with City but he also suffered the pain of relegation with Leeds in 2004.

He said: “I’ve been fortunate enough to win titles, I’ve been unfortunate enough to get relegated as well. I’ve experienced it, and these are the times you should be enjoying.

“There’s a long way to go, a lot can happen, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the league lead changes hands a couple of times before the end of the season.”

’s squad is stretched with defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dejan Lovren on the injured list along with influential midfield duo Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum.

After their 1-1 drawn with Leicester last week, it was the same outcome at the London Stadium. This Saturday they are home to Bournemouth.

But Milner insists they have what it takes to stay the course – and believes it will not be long before they are back up to full strength.

He said: “The big thing is hopefully we get a few more players back from injury. We’ve probably dropped from our standards the last couple of games, and we need to step up our energy levels.

“The squad is doing well, players coming in at short notice, players playing out of position. Look at the young lads on the bench who are pushing hard as well.”

Milner was offside when he crossed the ball for Sadio Mane to hit the opener against West Ham, who equalised through Michail Antonio.

He said: “I thought I might have been offside, but you play to the whistle. I think Mo Salah had one a little bit after that where he looked on to me, so they even out.

“There will be times this year where goals are going to be scored against us which are offside. Sometimes you get that luck, sometimes you don’t.”

Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has received another boost as he edges closer a return to fitness after he was included in their Champions League squad for the knockout phase.

The 25-year-old is nearing full fitness, ahead of schedule, after sustaining serious knee ligament damage in the semi-final first leg against Roma in April.

Liverpool face Bayern Munich at home in their last-16 first leg on February 19.

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