James Milner believes Liverpool must learn how to do the “boring” parts of football better after his side threw away a two-goal lead in a 3-3 draw against Arsenal.
Goals from Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah either side of half-time at the Emirates Stadium seemed to have put Liverpool on track for a comfortable Premier League victory.
But, out of nowhere, Arsenal manufactured a spectacular comeback, with goals from Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil turning the game on its head before Roberto Firmino ensured the Reds escaped with a point.
It was a thrilling encounter, the game of the season in the Premier League to date, but two dropped points left Milner – an early substitute after Jordan Henderson hurt his hamstring – bemoaning his team’s lack of defensive nous.
“I think when you’re in a position like that you have to see the game out and be more boring,” Milner told Sky Sports.
“Obviously we’re very good going forward but those are the times in the game when you’ve got to tighten up, not make mistakes for those five minutes.
“All the goals were our fault, really, and that’s something we have to learn from and we need to do it quick, because it seems to be a thing for us this year.
“We play such good football and sometimes we just need to switch that off for five to 10 minutes in a game and learn about the game, sense the situations when it’s time to take it easy, play a bit tighter and keep the ball a bit longer rather than trying to break every time.
“Against good teams at this level you get punished and it happened.”
279 – Since Jurgen Klopp’s first match in charge in October 2015, Liverpool’s Premier League games have seen 279 goals scored (174 for, 105 against), more than any other club. Entertainers. pic.twitter.com/avWG5okA6u
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2017
Back in favour under Arsene Wenger, Jack Wilshere completed another 90 minutes in the Arsenal midfield, helping his side to battle back from a seemingly hopeless situation.
But Milner’s fellow Englishman accepted the Gunners had been far below the required standard during a limp first-half display that saw them produce no shots on target.
“We didn’t do ourselves justice in the first half and played with fear,” Wilshere said. “We allowed them to take the game to us. We came out and were much better on the front foot after the break. We are disappointed not to win but it was much better in the second half.
“I’m fit now, enjoying my football and I’m happy. I’ve played three games now and I feel good, played a lot of games in the Europa League and it’s been a while since I’ve been available for Arsenal at Christmas so I’m excited and I want to give my all.”
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