James Milner insists there's more to come from Liverpool this season

David Cooper 16/08/2018
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Confident for season ahead: James Milner

James Milner has described Liverpool’s 4-0 mauling of West Ham as the “best possible” start to their Premier League campaign – but insists there is more to come from the Reds.

Liverpool, bolstered in the summer by the recruitment of Naby Keita, Alisson, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri, hit top form last Sunday as they put the Hammers to the sword.

Mohamed Salah set Jurgen Klopp’s men on their way at Anfield before Sadio Mane netted a double and Daniel Sturridge added a late fourth seconds after coming on as a substitute.

It was the type of performance which suggested a threat to Manchester City’s title defence but Milner, said: “That’s for other people to talk about. You guys (media) are going to discuss it, we just want to start the season well and keep improving as a squad and see where that takes us.

“Obviously it is early days and the first game of the season you want to get off to a good start, it is very important.

“It is never easy coming out of pre-season when you have players returning at different times due to the World Cup but you just want to get off to a good start and get a win.”

Milner, at Celtic Park to publicise a charity match next month where he will organise a team to take on former Hoops midfielder Stiliyan Petrov’s side, added: “I thought it was a good performance and I am sure it will improve as the season goes on.

“It was a good starting point, plenty we can work on but the best possible start and hopefully we can kick on from there.

“We feel we can beat anyone on our day, we have proved that but it is about having that consistency and we will know how difficult it is to win a league title and have that consistency and do it over 38 games.

“For us, we will just let other people talk about the challenges, it is down to us to go out there and perform and get as many points as we can.”

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Leicester manager Claude Puel is not bothered by speculation over his position

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Puel's position at Leicester is under the scanner.

Claude Puel claimed he would be “happy” for anyone succeeding him as Leicester boss due to the quality they would inherit – but he stressed “speculation” about his position was not his concern.

It has been reported that Puel is in serious danger of being sacked, with Saturday’s home clash against Wolves and the trip to Southampton a week later crucial to his hopes of keeping his job, and that Belgium’s management duo of Roberto Martinez and Thierry Henry are in the frame to replace him.

He is currently the favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave their post.

Leicester opened their 2018-19 Premier League campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Manchester United on Friday, having lost five of their final seven games last season, which they finished in ninth place.

Puel, who was appointed last October, was quoted by the Leicester Mercury as saying at his Thursday press conference ahead of the Wolves clash: “It’s just speculation.

“I would be happy for my successor, because he would have a good squad and a very good team.

“I can’t comment on speculation. My job is to build something with Leicester; to continue to develop this club, to develop the players and the squad. After this, if people are angry or not satisfied, that is not my concern.

“It is not the first time, it will not be the last.”

Henry and Martinez have been linked with the Leicester job.

Henry and Martinez have been linked with the Leicester job.

He added: “All my days on the training ground, my meetings with different people from the club, I am happy to train this club, to give my best, to see the progress in the play and the team, and the structure also.

“I focus on all of this. Speculation from people outside the club is not my concern.

“I know it is tradition to make some bet and lottery at the beginning of the season but that is not my concern.

“I am in the same position as the other 19 managers in the Premier League.”

Also on Thursday, Puel was asked about Harry Maguire after it was reported the defender, who impressed during England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals and is understood to have been a target for United, is close to agreeing a new contract with the Foxes.

The Frenchman said: “The most important thing is his importance to the club and the squad.

“Of course, with the management, it is just some things between players and the club. We have to manage all the players. We have to build a squad for this season and the future.

“Harry is a very valuable player to us. (It is) something between the player and the club. For me, the most important thing is that a player can play with a good mentality, happily, and with team-mates.”

While Maguire started last Friday’s game, fellow England man Jamie Vardy came off the bench, scoring late on.

And Puel has said he thinks the striker has a “good chance” of starting against Wolves.

Puel also said Shinji Okazaki and Matty James were not fit, and that while Caglar Soyuncu’s move to the club from Freiburg has now been been completed, the Turkey defender would not be involved in the Wolves game.

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Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech set to keep his place for London derby against Chelsea

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Petr Cech is set to keep his place this weekend

Unai Emery has confirmed goalkeeper Petr Cech will keep his place in goal for Arsenal when they head to Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday.

The 36-year-old appeared to struggle with Emery’s new approach of playing the ball out from defence in Sunday’s season opener, almost scoring an own goal in the 2-0 defeat as he looked uncomfortable in possession.

Goals from Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva ruined Emery’s welcome party as his first game as head coach ended with a loss.

Cech received widespread criticism for his performance and hit out at Bayer Leverkusen after their Twitter account mocked his display.

With Cech preferred to former Leverkusen stopper Bernd Leno, who left the German club to join the Gunners in the summer, they replied to a clip of a mistake with “we know a guy…” before running a video of Leno playing out from the back.

Cech questioned the “professionalism” on display and later received an apology from Leverkusen – but it appears he has retained the backing of Emery ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stamford Bridge.

“I am very happy with his performance,” Emery said of Cech. “He has experience, he has quality, he has the capacity.

“Also, with Bernd Leno – they are two goalkeepers who are important for us.

“For Saturday, the decision for me is easy. Petr Cech can continue to start the match, I believe in him. But if (in future) Bernd starts, I believe in him also.”

While Arsenal’s new high-pressing approach failed to produce a result against the reigning Premier League champions, Emery will continue with his philosophy when his side head to Stamford Bridge.

“We are going to play away but we need to keep our personality, keep our mentality,” he said.

“I think on Sunday against Manchester City, the team kept their ideas, kept their spirit in the game for the full 90 minutes, even when we were losing, and didn’t let their heads go down.

“We want a good preparation before and a good response on the pitch to that preparation.”

Nacho Monreal’s return to fitness has come at a good time for Emery, who is in need of a left-back having been without the Spain international and Sead Kolasinac for the City game.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles filled in but suffered a small fracture to his leg early on and now faces up to two months out.

Summer recruit Stephan Lichtsteiner – more adept at playing on the right – replaced Maitland-Niles and is now competing with Monreal for the berth against Chelsea.

“The first injury with Kolasinac was important because I think he was playing well in pre-season. But we needed to play with another player like Ainsley,” added Emery.

“After this injury, I tried with Lichtsteiner, who is a player with experience. He can play at left-back but his position in the team is more at right-back.

“This week Nacho Monreal is working every day, training every day with us. The two options we have now are Nacho Monreal and Lichtsteiner to continue in this position.”

Danny Welbeck has also returned to full training and could be involved in west London.

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