James Milner has noticed Manchester United’s improving form and believes Liverpool have to respond by “kicking on” in 2021.
The defending Premier League champions head into the new year with a three-point lead at the top despite back-to-back disappointing draws against strugglers West Brom and Newcastle.
Meanwhile, their arch-rivals, who have dropped just four points since November 1, could go level on points with them with victory over Aston Villa on Friday.
— James Milner (@JamesMilner) December 30, 2020
“I think it’s a positive (Liverpool are top) but it seems to be at this moment in time that nobody wants to take it by the scruff of the neck,” he told liverpoolfc.com.
“We’ve dropped points, everyone seems to be dropping points. United have had a good run and they’re probably the only team who are putting a run together.
“It’s important that we need to kick on now and try to get a few three-pointers.
“But the world is in a very strange place at the moment and it’s the same in football.
“Everybody’s lives are upside down, it’s tough mentally for everybody and it’s the same in football.
“Hopefully we can get out of this the other side and it’s the same with football – we just need to keep plugging away.
“We’ve given absolutely everything. The boys are doing well. We’ll stick together, we’ll keep plugging away and we just need to get that final piece of the puzzle right.
“I thought it was a good performance (against Newcastle), we just needed that final bit to get the goals.
“If we keep playing like that, hopefully we can go on a run and put some more points on the board.”
Liverpool have already dropped more points in 16 matches this season than they did in the whole of the previous campaign, which saw them race to their first title triumph in 30 years.
Last year, Jurgen Klopp’s side did not lose a league match until February 29, having won all of their games except one – against United – up until that point.
It was evident the unique circumstances of this campaign, with its lack of a proper pre-season and a compressed schedule, would have some impact on results and a repeat of Liverpool’s runaway success was never likely.
"We'll stick together, we'll keep plugging away and we just need to get that final piece of the puzzle right."@JamesMilner on tonight's performance and looking to the future 👊 pic.twitter.com/lH8WhaRCY8
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 30, 2020
Nevertheless, Milner accepts they could still have done better.
“Everything is completely different but it’s the same in all walks of life at this moment in time so that’s something we have to adapt to,” he added.
“Whether that is stopping teams putting on a good run and being fully comfortable, I don’t know.
“But that’s where we are and we have to deal with it the best we can and push on. I think where we are in the league we would have liked to have got more points on the board.
“There’s points we’ve dropped this season where we feel we could have done better but to still be in the mix going into the new year is good, especially with the problems we have.
“But we are a quality squad of players who have been together a long time and we are used to winning.
“We are disappointed not to get the three points (at Newcastle) but we want to get back on the winning track as soon as possible.”