Belfast Telegraph

Milner targets more clean sheets after solid start to Premier League season

The Reds have scored six goals without reply in their opening two games.

Liverpool vice-captain James Milner believes keeping clean sheets will be key in their bid to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title this season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are the only top flight team not to have conceded a goal in their opening two matches and Monday’s 2-0 win at Crystal Palace was an example of how their new-found resilience is paying off.

Leading through Milner’s penalty just before the interval they held off their opponents until Sadio Mane’s added time breakaway goal confirmed a second successive victory.

Milner believes they are getting better at grinding out results as opposed to steamrollering teams with their fearsome free-scoring forward line of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Mane.

“That’s something we have to work on: winning all different types of games,” the midfielder, who extended his Premier League record of not losing when scoring to 48 matches, told liverpoolfc.com.

“We know with the players that we have got going forward if we keep those clean sheets then we’ve got every chance of nicking a goal at the other end.

“So it comes from the ‘keeper and all the way through the back four and all the way through the team and the way we play, everyone defends together.”

Key to Liverpool’s new defensive resilience is Virgil van Dijk, whom the Reds made the world’s most expensive defender with their £75million purchase in January.

The Holland captain, who made eight clearances at Selhurst Park in Monday’s win at Crystal Palace – five more than any of his team-mates, has kept nine clean sheets in 16 league matches since arriving.

His impact was immediate following his move from Southampton as Liverpool averaged 0.7 goals a game in the 14 matches with him in the team last season and 1.2 when he was not present for the other 24.

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