Liverpool's slip-ups against weaker clubs have cost us a shot at the Premier League title, says James Milner

Milner has admitted Liverpool's performances against weaker teams have been 'inadequate'

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The Independent Football

Liverpool’s James Milner has admitted that the side’s performances against weaker clubs have been inadequate and suggested it has cost the club a shot at the title this season.

The captain revealed that he deliberately stood in front of the penalty spot in front of the Kop end at Anfield on Sunday because he saw Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster “trying to scuff up the spot” before the kick that he missed.

But Milner put the troublesome fight for a top four place, which will go to the wire, down to the persistent failure to see off defence-minded teams like Southampton, who left Liverpool with a point on Sunday.

Liverpool have mustered only seven points from their seven games against teams positioned 9th to 12th in the Premier League and have not won at home since the Merseyside derby on April 1.

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Liverpool struggled to break down Southampton (Getty)

But their top four aim is in their own hands. They are third, five and seven points clear of 5th and 6th placed Manchester United and Arsenal, who have games in hand.

“You look at the results all season,” Milner said. “We have dropped points where you might not expect us to and there have been some disappointing games. We do that job better and we are fighting for the title, never mind fighting to get into the top four. That is disappointing and we know it is an area we need to improve.

“Against the top teams, our record is very, very good but against the teams that come to sit back and play on the break and look to get something from a set piece, we need to improve. There are not many things wrong. We can certainly improve on it and if we do that, we will be in the reckoning.

“This is a team and a club that needs to be in the Champions League. We will be in Europe but the Champions League is where everyone wants to play.”

Milner said that Jurgen Klopp now has players preparing specifically for opponents who drop behind the ball, as Southampton did.

“Yeah, of course we work on that,” he said. “Every team defends differently and we will have different game plans for different opposition, different attacking patterns for how we want to break them down.”

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Forster appeared to put Milner off before the penalty-kick (Getty)

The wing back was surprisingly diplomatic about the gamesmanship which saw Forster - with whom Milner once played at Newcastle - towering over him as he guarded the sport against the goalkeeper’s attempt to do damage to it.

“He was trying to scuff up the spot, so I just stood in front of it,” Milner said. “Listen, it’s all part of it. It never affected me, it didn’t get in my head or anything like that. I knew what I wanted to do. I just didn’t get it in the corner that I fancied.

“I don’t if he went early or not but he is a big lad and he has seen me take a lot of penalties when we have been taking them with England at the Euros. They are a bit tougher when they know you. Ultimately, the penalty wasn’t good enough. He made a good save.”

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