James Milner has revealed how he told Jordan Henderson he had a hunch Liverpool were on the brink of racking up a commanding victory during a conversation at Melwood early last week.
The midfielder’s prediction came to fruition in emphatic fashion on Sunday when a rampant Reds side ran out 6-0 winners over Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Milner explained: “I had a convo with Hendo the other day and said I think we’re due a game like this where things go in. I don’t think we started particularly well, but we found ourselves in front.
“We’ve played a lot better at times and not had the rewards we’ve deserved. It was pleasing, we had a lot of chances that hadn’t been going in for us, but did go in.
“Hopefully that can kick-start this final period of the season with some important games coming up, get the boys some confidence in front of goal and hopefully a lot more chances will go in.”
Liverpool took an early lead in the Midlands when Daniel Sturridge headed them in front from a pinpoint Philippe Coutinho cross.
Milner added their second soon after when his free-kick from the left sailed over everyone in the middle of the hosts’ box and into the corner of the goal.
However, despite holding such a healthy advantage at the interval, the vice-captain explained why it was crucial the Reds began the second period strongly.
“Going in 2-0 up at half-time, it was important how we came out for the second half,” said Milner. “We knew they’d react because it was an important game for them, so it was important we started the second half strongly and kicked on again because if they’d got the next goal then the game would have changed completely. It was a good performance from the boys.”
Emre Can, Divock Origi, Nathaniel Clyne and Kolo Toure completed the scoring for Liverpool in the second half, making it a day to remember at Villa Park for anyone connected with the Reds.
The result also meant Jürgen Klopp’s side took their goal difference to plus two in the Barclays Premier League table.
“It looks a lot better when you look at the league table and see that,” admitted Milner. “It’s important and hopefully we can build on the confidence from the chances we’ve created and taken.
“We have been creating chances, but not putting them in the back of the net. If we can keep getting goals from everywhere, contributing and taking a bit of pressure off the front boys then that’ll help as well.”
Liverpool’s intentions were clear from the off against Remi Garde’s side as they opted to deploy Sturridge, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in tandem up top.
Milner acknowledges the returns to fitness of several key attacking players recently bodes well for the challenges that await the Reds in the final weeks of the campaign.
He explained: “It does [hold a lot of excitement for the future], there’s a lot of quality there. Injuries have hurt us a bit this year, but that’s what your squad is there for.
“Divock is coming back as well and came straight on and got a goal, so that’s pleasing for him as well.”
For Milner, his effort resulted in his fifth goal for Liverpool – but did he intend for his free-kick to find the back of the net as he stepped up to strike it?
“With the in-swinging free-kicks, you normally want it whipped it on that line so if it ever does miss [players in the middle] it will go in at the far post,” he admitted.
“It’s not something you intend to do but you hope that if everyone misses it that’s where it finishes. It was pleasing.”
For Milner, the contest was a poignant one as he returned to Villa Park, where he spent three seasons over the course of two spells earlier in his career.
The result left Villa at the foot of the table, eight points from safety, but the 30-year-old insists his former club still have a chance of retaining their top-flight status.
“It’s disappointing to see them in this position,” said Liverpool’s No.7. “They’re a big club and a club where I had some good years and I’ve still got friends here.
“It’s disappointing to see them in that position, but they need to bounce back and hopefully get a strong run together. One team always seems to put a run together and get out of trouble. It’s a long way back for them but look a Leicester, so who knows?”