Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were the trio who played such key roles in Liverpool’s early obliteration of Manchester City at Anfield earlier this month.
And tonight they will be charged with performing the same job on Roma in the semi-final.
A front three from Egypt, Senegal and Brazil may be earning the loudest plaudits, but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are built on unashamedly English foundations.
While it’s fashionable to sneer at English footballers, Reds chief Klopp is not joining in.
The German insisted: “If you have two players at the same level and one is English and the other is from somewhere else, I always go for the English guy. They keep the mood good and feel the club’s history.
“We have fantastic guys from all over the world… but the English guys lead the group.”
Henderson — who could end up captaining England in Russia and Liverpool in Kiev — has developed an unfussy sense of authority as a footballer and as a man.
SPAG LOL Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp rules out managing in Serie A as he can only speak enough Italian to order spaghetti in restaurants
And Henderson says he owes a lot to Klopp. The 27-year-old said: “He’s one of the best managers in the world.
“Tactically, that goes without saying. Off the field, he’s a fantastic human and he has a great passion for football.
“He always looks for more. I feel I have improved a lot since he came to the club.”
Alongside Henderson, the Ox is beginning to flourish — and it is a damning indictment of Arsene Wenger’s waning powers that he seems to have developed further in eight months under Klopp than in six years at the Emirates.
When he hit a belting second goal during that blitz of City, Klopp demanded to know why he didn’t score more often. He is being pushed on Merseyside in a way he never was at Arsenal.
England boss Gareth Southgate was openly sceptical when told the 24-year-old was heading to Liverpool as a central midfielder, insisting he saw him as a wideman.
Now the ex-Gunner may end up partnering Henderson in the centre of the park in Russia.
After a difficult start at Anfield, Oxlade-Chamberlain is proving himself centrally and nobody is laughing at his £35million fee any more.
And then there’s the nation’s favourite pit-pony, Milner. When he retired from international duty at Euro 2016, there was no mourning.
Yet this most derided of footballers — ridiculed on Twitter but happier than most to laugh about himself — is belatedly earning appreciation.
The ‘boring James Milner’ image originally came about because of the teetotaller’s solid but unspectacular style — yet his sale once led to Kevin Keegan leaving Newcastle in a fit of pique.
There has always been much to admire about this most typically English player.
And another big performance against Roma’s experienced midfield trio of Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman tonight might leave Southgate asking him to reverse his international retirement.
Just as Milner’s natural soulmate, Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has done…
Source: Read Full Article