This weekend sees Liverpool return to Premier League action as Jurgen Klopp’s English champions-elect prepare to host AFC Bournemouth at Anfield on Saturday – and many Reds supporters have called for James Milner to start.
It’s been a hugely disappointing week for the European champions following back-to-back defeats in all competitions for the first time since January 2019. In the space of 15 days, Liverpool have suffered setbacks in the Premier League, Champions League and the FA Cup.
However, despite the sudden doom and gloom, Liverpool are just four league victories away from securing a first league title since 1990. A win against Eddie Howe’s league strugglers would also see the Reds open up a gargantuan 25-point gap over current holders Manchester City.
Milner, 33, is yet to start a Premier League match for the Reds since January 2 during Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat against Sheffield United. The former England international suffered a muscle injury against Everton in the FA Cup third-round victory 10 weeks ago but has since made cameo appearances off the bench against Atletico Madrid and Chelsea.
In the absence of Milner and club-captain Jordan Henderson, Liverpool have lacked a natural leader in midfield and it has resulted in a number of disjointed performances that culminated in the Reds’ first league defeat in 44 matches at Vicarage Road last weekend.
Since Klopp took charge of the club in October 2015, only Roberto Firmino has featured more under the German boss than Milner. The former Leeds United starlet signed on a free transfer from Manchester City in 2015 [BBC Sport] and has clocked up 208 appearances in his five seasons at Anfield.
Milner – who earns £140,000-a-week according to Spotrac – has once again been a regular figure for the runaway leaders this season with the former Aston Villa captain featuring in 31 appearances for the Reds this campaign – he has scored four goals and has registered four assists.
Ahead of Liverpool’s 29th league match of the season against Bournemouth this afternoon, many Kopites have taken to Twitter urging Klopp to reinstate the Englishman back into his Premier League starting XI.
Here is a selection of tweets urging the seasoned veteran to start from the off against the Cherries at Anfield come 15:00 GMT…
We need this guy on the pitch asap
— No thanks. (@Metafysician) March 5, 2020
Think Milner will play tomorrow from the start. Need his grit and determination to lift players around him.
— Kev H ⭐77⭐78⭐81⭐84⭐05⭐19 (@gumpy77) March 6, 2020
I can probably see ox starting but for me Milner needs to start missing that leadership possibly over fab
— Sam Morris (@sammorris02_) March 6, 2020
Think Milner should start tomorrow. Whether its in midfield or in for Robbo to rest him
— Harry (@LfcHarryy) March 6, 2020
I'd be tempted to play Minamino from the start tomorrow vs Bournemouth. Think he deserves to start. Play Fabs and Milner behind him and the usual front 3 and back 4 with Alli in net.
A toss-up between Mini and Ox perhaps for that spot in MF. #LFC
— Andy Myers (@djandymyers) March 6, 2020
We need to start Milner for this match
— Nana Kwasi (@Kev_OA_) March 5, 2020
Fabinho shouldn't be close to that midfield. He looks way of the place. Milner should start, get some bottle back.
— rp anderson (@frankenhooker75) March 4, 2020