Liverpool form not down to Champions League, says Milner

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The Reds have proved hit and miss so far this season but the midfielder is not willing to put it down to their continental return

James Milner does not feel Liverpool can blame their Champions League return for a patchy start to the Premier League season.

Jurgen Klopp's men won seven and lost one of their opening 10 top-flight matches last season, with no European commitments, landing them firmly in the thick of the title race.

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Saturday's 3-0 win at home to Huddersfield Town gave Liverpool a fourth victory at the same stage this time around, placing them sixth – 12 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Champions League Group E match against Maribor at Anfield, Milner rejected the notion that the Reds' inconsistencies can be blamed on one specific factor.

"At the start of the season we haven't necessarily been as consistent as we would have liked. I wouldn't say that's down to the Champions League, to be honest," the former England man told reporters.

"We haven't started as well as well wanted, we've lost a few players to injury – Adam Lallana is obviously a big miss for us, setting the tempo both ways, Phil [Coutinho] having the odd injuries and things like this.

"It's been a bit disrupted and the international breaks… every team has it, so I don't want to make excuses and say that's our reason why.

"There are all these little factors. I wouldn't say it's a European football thing, it's just we haven't quite hit our stride yet.

"We all know when we do we can beat absolutely anyone out there. It's important we find that and keep improving and moving forward as a team."

Maribor felt the full force of Liverpool hitting top gear when they were routed 7-0 last time out, but Milner is keen for his team-mates not to approach the return encounter with any complacency.

"We won't take them lightly," he said. "They're a strong team; you don't get to the group stages of the Champions League without being a strong side.

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"We performed very well on the night and I don't think they performed to their standards.

"If I was in their dressing room I know I'd want to put that right. Coming to Anfield it's another game and a special occasion.

"We have to be on top of our game, makes sure we perform the same, set the same tempo we did last time and come out all guns blazing."

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