3️⃣ points after Burnley stun lacklustre Liverpool at Anfield

Logo: OneFootball


Dan Burke

Article image: https://image-service.onefootball.com/crop/face?h=810&image=https%3A%2F%2Fwp-images.onefootball.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2Fsites%2F10%2F2021%2F01%2FFBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-BURNLEY-1611268274-1000x667.jpg&q=25&w=1080

Burnley became the first team to win a Premier League match at Anfield in almost four years on Thursday.

Premier League


Here’s our analysis of the action from Anfield …

What were you thinking Jürgen?

Liverpool went into this match knowing that a defeat would leave them six points adrift of league leaders Manchester United, and potentially seven points behind Manchester City in the grand scheme of things.

The Reds haven’t scored a league goal since they were held to a draw by West Brom at Anfield on 27 December, and their last goals in any competition came in an unconvincing FA Cup win over Aston Villa’s youth team.

So why on earth did Jürgen Klopp start with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino on the bench here?

Alright they’ve got United to come in the cup on Sunday and the games have been coming thick and fast lately, but surely staying in the title race should be the champions’ main priority at the moment?

Instead Klopp gave Divock Origi a rare start, and the Belgian surely won’t be trusted ever again after he blew his side’s best chance of the game when clean through on goal in the first half.

Salah and Firmino came on in the second half and still weren’t able to find a breakthrough, but it might have been a different story had Klopp gone full strength from the off.

Instead, it seems he underestimated Burnley, and he paid a heavy price.

Burnley were brilliant

That stats say this was a smash and grab, and in some ways it was, but that doesn’t mean Burnley shouldn’t be very proud of their performance here.

Their excellence started with Nick Pope in goal, whose superb saves inspired his team-mates to keep hanging in there.

Dwight McNeil gave Trent Alexander-Arnold a torrid time down the left flank, while Ashley Barnes’s excellent hold-up play was ultimately rewarded with his winning goal from the penalty spot.

Sean Dyche’s side finished the match with just 28% possession but the way they were quickly able to get men back behind the ball and close Liverpool’s space was so impressive.

Defending is an art and this display was Turner Prize worthy.

Henderson is the missing link

As my colleague Joel Sanderson-Murray explained before this match, Liverpool losing key defenders to injuries this season hasn’t been their biggest problem.

Their biggest problem has been the knock-on effect those injuries have had elsewhere on the pitch.

In recent weeks, captain Jordan Henderson has dropped back into defence to help out, and it has created a vacuum in midfield that no one else seems capable of filling.

Joël Matip may have returned from injury tonight, but Henderson missed out entirely due to a groin problem, and that midfield vacuum was still there for all to see.

Thiago Alcântara is a great player but he isn’t quite the driving force in the middle that Henderson was last season, when he often played as the furthest forward of the midfield three.

And without the skipper shouting instructions, the rest of the team look a little clueless.

Xherdan Shaqiri is simply not good enough and never will be; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t up to it either; Gini Wijnaldum is offering nothing; Firmino looks utterly bereft of confidence, while Salah and Mané are suffering from a dip in form that was always likely to come at some point.

And then there’s Alexander-Arnold, who has always been a little defensively suspect and now isn’t contributing much going forward either.

Liverpool have issues in every department and sorting them out could be the biggest challenge of Klopp’s coaching career so far.

The title race isn’t over yet, nor is the January transfer window closed.

Act now or regret it later.