'Man City will raise their game so we have to keep pushing' - Liverpool can't go into 'autopilot' after title win, says Milner

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Liverpool can't go into "autopilot" after winning the Premier League, says James Milner, who expects Manchester City to "come back firing".

The Reds were confirmed as the new champions of England on Thursday after City succumbed to a 2-1 loss against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The result left Pep Guardiola's men 23 points adrift of the leaders, who bounced back from a narrow defeat in last season's title race to emerge as the new dominant force in the top-flight.

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City will give Liverpool's players a guard of honour when the two teams meet at Etihad Stadium on Thursday, and Jurgen Klopp could see his side set a new points record if they pick up at least 15 points from their remaining seven fixtures.

Milner, who won his first two Premier League crowns while on City's books, is expecting a strong response from the Manchester outfit next season and has called on the entire Reds squad to be ready to step up to the challenge.

The Liverpool midfielder told The Times: “It’s about getting that balance right between enjoying it and getting ready to go again.

“You see how difficult it is for any team to defend the title. City managed it last season, when they got 98 points, but they tried twice before and failed.

“Those two times I was there we were never at the races – and that was everybody. That's something I've learned from. This team has proved we can react well and go again after a disappointment.

“We came back from losing the Champions League final and we've come back from finishing second with 97 points, but it’s a new challenge to go again when you’ve been successful.

“Can we deal with that? Can we keep showing that hunger and keep playing in the same way?

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

“Being as good next year as we have been this year won't be enough because City will raise their game and so will Manchester United and other clubs.

“All these teams are pushing for the top and when you're right at the very top everyone wants to take it away from you.

“We are now there to be shot at – and we have to be big enough to deal with that. We have to keep pushing.

“I don't think this team would ever go into autopilot. I don’t think we have those sort of characters or attitude but that's the challenge now.

“It doesn’t mean we’re automatically going to win it again, we know how good Man City and other teams are.

“We know this will hurt Man City so they’ll come back firing – but it’s down to us to try and go again.”

Milner went on to insist that Liverpool are fully focused on finishing the 2019-20 campaign strongly with a view to setting a new points mark, adding: “It's definite motivation. Not so much the record, I think it is just the responsibility of pulling on a Liverpool shirt and going out with that responsibility to win a game.

“That is what is expected of us and you are always pushing to be the best you can. And how many chances do you get to reach that amount of points, it is incredible.

“You wouldn’t want to look back and think 'Oh, we won the title but the last seven games we were poor, we didn’t get at it'.

“And obviously with not knowing how long we will get off once we complete the season, these next games are sort of preparation for going into next season as well.

“It's so important that we keep getting up to speed and back up to that level, so we will be pushing as hard as we can to finish the season strongly.

“That's why it's so important to finish with as many points as we can but also take that stepping stone for next season.”

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