Liverpool v Burnley
Putting aside the result, though that is the important thing after all, there is a lot to be disappointed about in this match from a Liverpool point of view. For starters, the Anfield crowd was incredibly subdued, despite this being the Klopp farewell tour. Klopp deserves a better send off than that! This is a team fighting on all fronts still, with four trophies still up for grabs and yet the fans did nothing to roar them on. This is a big piece of history taking place in front of their eyes, they can be the difference when the team is struggling.
And, make no bones about it, at points in this game Liverpool really were struggling. It seems to be a common theme this season, start slowly with a lack of intensity and it becomes a real struggle to get the right result. How much of that was down to the flu bug that had swept through the camp and forced Klopp to make a lot more changes to the team than I am sure he would have liked to make, is difficult to judge. It certainly seemed like a lot of the players seemed a bit listless and struggling for energy at times, though that could have just been down to the lack of intensity in the team play. For me, that was not helped by the centre-back pairing, who are very similar, very laidback, almost lackadaisical at times. They set the tone for the slow, laboured play by rolling the ball about at the back at times, allowing Burnley to apply the press. This is when Henderson is missed, to give them a rollicking and wake them up. It is good, most of the time, having that calmness at the back, and both defenders are certainly good enough, singly and as a pairing, but when the opposition is pressing them, they need to look to move the ball more quickly.
That was the biggest problem, Liverpool created all their own problems, again, by allowing the opposition to press them, playing the ball around far too slowly and inviting more pressure on. The performance did improve in the second half and the team did enough to win the game without having to play well, which is hopefully a good sign. They will need to be better if the season is to be the success Klopp deserves to enjoy in his final season with the Reds. As Arsenal showed, a lack of intensity will be punished by the better teams in the Premier League. Burnley are not one of those though, so this performance was more than enough to beat them.
Burnley look a much better team going forward than they were earlier in the season, the addition of Fofana, in particular, has given them some threat up top at last. That is a relative term as they are still not that good. However, they are still causing their own problems at the back and, in Trafford, have a very poor goalkeeper who folds under pressure of any sort. Any time there is the slightest pressure on him when the ball is at his feet Trafford shanks the ball into touch and concedes possession. For a team that wants to play possession football and build from the back, having a goalkeeper that is unable to handle being pressed is unforgivable. He is a massively weak link, despite his ridiculously arrogant proclamations about himself and what a big, important player he is.
Burnley, and Kompany, are just out of their depth right now in the Premier League. It is not just the way they play, nor just a lack of quality, they also lack experience and there is no tactical knowhow on the bench to change things mid-game. I was going to say when needed, but they always need to make changes, so it seemed superflous! Their hopes of staying up are fading fast, and they were almost non-existent to begin with.
Quick notes on the players:
Kelleher – a good game for the Irish keeper, quick to come out when needed, but he was aided by Burnley’s inability to hit the target regularly to really test him. His calmness on the ball was important to the performance though.
Alexander-Arnold – once again he looked to be playing before he was ready. Looked so far off full fitness, but he still managed to provide an assist to set a new all-time Premier League assist record for defenders. Even half-fit he can be a real problem for the opposition to deal with, though it did mean he struggled on the defensive end himself. He was taken off at half-time as an injury precaution after feeling an issue with his previously injured knee.
Quansah – needed to be a bit more lively on the ball early on, but overall he had a good game. Showed good reading of the game at times to mop up before danger could truly threaten.
van Dijk – like Quansah he was a bit slow at moving the ball in the early stages and invited pressure on the team. Needs to start the game at a higher tempo to draw the sting out of the opposition press.
Robertson – did alright in the first half, but was a bit subdued holding himself back from making his usual charges forward so that Alexander-Arnold could invert. His game picked up massively in the second half as he had more freedom to bomb down the wings. He was a constant threat in the second half and gave the Burnley team no end of problems.
Endo – improved as the game went on, initially seemed to struggle to get to grips with the pace of the game after his time away with his national team. In the second half he was one of the key players for Liverpool.
Jones – he was probably the best of the trio in midfield in the first half, though that is not a particularly high bar to compare against. Moving to right-back for the second half and it is telling that Burnley barely troubled him.
Mac Allister – struggled, despite playing in the position that is probably his best. Though he did improve as the second half went on. I might be wrong, but I cannot recall him playing this role during the season itself, so it is little surprise he was unable to be as effective as he had been playing in the deeper role. I am sure that, just like he did in the deeper role, he will come onto a game as he keeps playing there.
Diaz – was Liverpool’s standout in the first half but faded a little in the second. Though it is probably more that the rest raised their games up to a similar level to him, rather than him fading. He was very much a threat throughout and fully deserved a goal.
Nunez – good finish for his goal and once again he was causing the opposition so many headaches throughout the game, but particularly in the second half. It is not so much about him getting or taking chances, it is his workrate, his movement, his constant pressure on the defence not allowing them a moment to rest. It is little wonder Liverpool score so many late goals when opposing defences are worn out by the chasing he gives them. Like Firmino before him, Nunez is more than just a focal point for the attack, and it is no coincidence that the team looks much more threatening when he plays.
Jota – he could have done with more service, plus he does need to stop going down too easily, but overall he had a good game. He worked hard and caused a lot of issues for Burnley, even when they had the ball he was not allowing them time and space.
Elliott – replaced Alexander-Arnold at half-time. He was given MOTM by the Liverpool official site and it is difficult to argue with that. Once again he stepped up and was the catalyst for a much improved second half performance. Gave Jones at right-back a lot of protection as well.
Gakpo – came on for Diaz in the 82nd minute. Arrived too late to really make a mark.
McConnell – took the place of Endo in the 90+6th minute.
Clark – also brought on in the 90+6th minute to replace Mac Allister.
Tsimikas – the third member of the triple substitution in the 90+6th minute, taking the place of Robertson.
Written by Tris Burke February 13 2024 02:57:21
Source From: Football News Views
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