Statistically, James Milner has been one of the best left-backs in Europe so far this season, which is an immense credit to a man who has spent the vast majority of his career as an attack minded midfielder.
What was at first an emergency stop-gap has become the best option as Milner offers so much not only in attacking and ball retention, but in strong defensive play as well.
According to CIES, James Milner is the second best full-back in Europe and the best full-back in the Premier League. Mr reliable ?? pic.twitter.com/kuVIF6jHaE
— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) January 13, 2017
Perhaps his best attribute is his crossing. When he cuts back onto his right foot he almost always delivers a tantalising cross into a dangerous area, and he even pops up on the right flank to whip something in as well from time to time, but that is why it is so strange that his corners are woeful.
While the goal at Old Trafford came from a good delivery and Paul Pogba absolutely bricking it, that has not been the case in the majority of Liverpool's games this season. With so many of their opponents opting to get everyone behind the ball, corners and free-kicks in attacking positions are absolutely crucial, and so often does a cross fail to beat the first man.
The fact that Liverpool are dominating most of the games they play means that they are going to get a lot of corners.
This issue was highlighted on Wednesday night as Shane Long's goal was started by a tame corner, Liverpool's 8th of the match, that didn't beat the first man. But why is Milner coming from left back over to the right-hand side to take them?
The players clearly know what he has in his locker in terms of delivery, and trust that, but it's happening too often.
How many corners did James Milner have today and how many found a Liverpool player?
— Liverpool GFN (@LiverpoolGFN) January 25, 2017
And don't get me started on corners. How can you get paid over 100 bags a week and still not beat the first man from a cross. HOW
— Samir Prince (@SP__Liverpool) January 25, 2017
Been wondering why Milner takes corners for 1.5 years. Is today the day it becomes Coutinho's duty? Change seems unlikely... #LFC
— LFC Commentary (@lfc_comments) January 25, 2017
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results ~ Albert Einstein
Applies to James Milner's corners.
— Tommy Burns (@TTBurnsy_) January 25, 2017
Surely someone else fancies a go? Many fans are already asking why Coutinho has not been tasked with delivering from set-pieces, especially considering his direct free-kicks are among the most terrifying in the Premier League.
The answer is probably that Coutinho, too, has struggled before with whipping in a corner, and I can recall grumblings about Gerrard's technique a while back as well, but it's not like there's a curse on the corner flags at Anfield.
Milner is taking stick for his poor corners, but the reality is he has been one of the better performers this season, and while the likes of Danny Rose and Marcos Alonso are going to be touted for the team of the season, Milner is someone who deserves credit for making a difficult transition look seamless.
And his penalties are absolute quality too. It's mad, really.