Brendan Rodgers got his first win on Boxing Day as Liverpool boss as his side went home with a 1-0 win over Burnley.
Liverpool somehow won the first of festive period matches in a very scrappy manner but they would return home with the much needed three points.
The Reds boss named an unchanged side against the Clarets and after the encouraging performance against the Gunners at home, where unarguably Liverpool were the better side and deserved a win. However, if the fans and Rodgers expected a performance of last week, they were highly mistaken.
The visitors were hardly able to string two passes for most parts, and never really kicked on in the game. Brad Jones couldn’t carry on after the sixteenth minute and Simon Mignolet took on the gloves sooner than expected. Burnley kept their intensity going throughout the first half and went closest to a goal as Danny Ings’ shot hit the post. The home side began the second half with intensity as well, though maybe lesser, but Liverpool capitalized on a chance in the 62nd minute as Philippe Coutinho beautifully flicked on Lucas’s header forward, and Sterling raced on to the ball beyond the defence before rounding Heaton and striking the ball low into the empty net to give Liverpool the lead.
Sam Vokes made his first appearance from the bench after nine months around the 75th minute. Eventually the home side ran out of steam and Liverpool held firm and earned a much-needed victory.
Brendan Rodgers said after the game, ‘We knew coming into the game this was going to be tough. Burnley work so hard, they’re very well organised and they go from the first whistle to the last. Our football wasn’t as fluent as it could have been but we’ve kept a clean sheet, won the game and it’s a big three points for us.
“In terms of our character and resilience in the game, we showed outstanding qualities when needed,” the Northern Irishman told reporters inside the stadium. It was difficult in terms of the fluidity in the game; they pressed really hard and made it difficult for us, in particular in the first half. But I felt we were better in the second half.
“There weren’t many chances in the game at all, but the one clear one that came to us we put away. We deserved the three points. We had to show a different side today, with different types of qualities to what we showed against Arsenal and other games, like Bournemouth. The crowd really gets behind the team and they are a team that are always in the game. They don’t concede too many and it’s always very tight.
“The players deserve huge credit, because even though we hadn’t played so well in the first half, we actually defended reasonably well. We got our blocks in, stopped crosses and with anything that did come into the box, we got up to the ball and defended really well.
“We needed to show a bit more composure on the ball in the second half, so we made a change with Emre [Can] coming on [at half-time].
“He showed really good athleticism, power and football ability in that position. What we had to do and defend, we defended well. It was a great three points and I’m delighted with them.”
“Brad Jones got a knock on his thigh and he felt it with his first kick and couldn’t continue. Simon Mignolet came in and took a few good crosses. It’s good for his confidence that he went on to keep a clean sheet.
“It’s been well documented that we’ve not been at the level we’d like, but I feel we have been improving in the last few weeks.”
Rodgers heaped praise on Raheem Sterling, who Liverpool look dependent on as they lack a natural goalscorer. The player missed numerous chances at Old Trafford against United, but since then, has done very well in front of goal scoring a brace in the League Cup, and a goal today.
Rodgers said, “It shows what a great learner he is. He is in a position now where he’s going to receive a lot of opportunities in that type of situation, because of his pace – which will take him away from anyone.
“He’s going to get those central runs, running onto the ball. Because he’s playing in that position, he’s gone away with the coaches and worked on that type of finish, both left side and right side.
“He showed great composure and he showed great ability to learn, to beat the ‘keeper and finish it really well. His development and ability to want to be better has got us the three points.”