Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by a stubborn Burnley side at Anfield after a similar outcome against Sevilla in the Champions League.
Liverpool’s week worsened further as they were held to a draw at home by a sturdy Burnley side – a result which they might not have fathomed. After throwing away a 2-1 lead against Sevilla mid-week, Jurgen Klopp would have hoped to convert the Burnley fixture into a stright-forward win to rake in three crucial points.
It wasn’t a strong start for Liverpool by any means as Burnley were surprisingly well-organised on both ends. Stunned silence shrouded Anfield when the visitors managed to take the lead when Matip and Klavan misjudged a cross and Scott Arfield slotted the ball in with a neat side-foot finish.
Klopp’s side hit back immediately as Emre Can found Mohamed Salah who controlled and slotted the ball past Nick Pope with relative ease. The goalkeeper was truly a key factor for Burnley’s performance since he denied Liverpool despite them peppering the Burnley goal. THT takes a look at five talking points from the stalemate encounter.
Salah saves Liverpool but has a long way to go
Had it not been for Salah’s clinical goal, Liverpool might have had to concede three points to Burnley. None of the other shots made it past the solid Nick Pope, which makes Salah’s strike all the more important. Much has been said about how his finishing still needs work but last night, he was truly one of Liverpool’s best.
When shooting from the right, the Egyptian seems to generate a lot more power and direct his shots better, whereas from the left, he tends to focus more on the placement rather than power. This made a lot of his shots appear as if they’re passed directly to the keeper, as was the case against Manchester City as well.
He did trouble Burnley in central areas as Liverpool chased the winner, and also provided the equalizer for Liverpool but his shots from the left were tame yet again. This can cause a lot of problems for the Klopp’s men going forward especially in the absence of Sadio Mane.
Shambolic central defence again as the woes continue
Ragnar Klavan came into the side in place of Dejan Lovren to partner Joel Matip and put in a decent shift on Saturday. Yet, what remains worrisome is that the defence was rarely tested by Burnley, and on the rare occasions when they were, they made a huge mess of things.
Robbie Brady beat Alexander-Arnold in the air but when the ball came in to Chris Wood, Matip failed to win the header while Klavan kicked at thin air. This provided Arfield with a one-on-one against Simon Mignolet, which he managed to keep away.
The underwhelming performances by the defenders only add a lot more pressure on the Liverpool goalkeepers. Both Mignolet and Loris Karius have faced such issues over the past week. The weak central defence only shows why Klopp was so desperate to sign Virgil van Dijk – a deal which he will be likely to pursue again in January.
Will the real Philippe Coutinho please stand up?
Philippe Coutinho didn’t look his best last night by a long mile. Granted, it was his first start this season but his attempts were extremely shoddy and simply unlike his usual self. Usually, the Brazilian bends his strikes in with more finesse and quality but last night he was way off the mark.
While one might also consider that the Burnley defence was extraordinarily strong and sturdy, the fact that Coutinho failed to trouble them much cannot be ignored. The Brazilian had very little space to work with as the visitors shielded their goal impressively but Coutinho is a player who has done better in tougher situations before.
Having said that, everything was not off for the playmaker. There were instances where he showed that his understanding with the rest of the frontmen was still intact. Considering the drama that unfolded over the summer over Coutinho’s future, it’ll perhaps take a few more games for him to get better as time goes on.
Nick Pope – the silent hero of Burnley
Tom Heaton has been a consistent performer for Burnley in their goal. Thus, when news of his absence due to a shoulder injury broke out, fans feared the worst since the keeper would be out for about four months. Burnley’s only back-up keeper was Nick Pope.
The former Charlton Athletic goalkeeper proved to be a surprise package in every sense, despite being only 25-years-old. He has played for several clubs in the lower divisions of English football, and yet there he was at Anfield – playing like a seasoned keeper against a Liverpool side famed for its crushing attack.
There were some moments where he was greatly tested but he did not let that ruin his display. Pope was solid and kept out everything brilliantly apart from Mohamed Salah’s goal. The performance was encouraging on every level, which will provide some relief to the fans despite the possible absence of their usual keeper.
Back to the drawing board for Klopp
Even if one counts out Liverpool’s game against Watford since it was their opener, the situation still looks grim for Klopp. The recurring saga of failing to do well at the back and dropping precious points against relatively weak teams is something that must be infuriating for both the fans and the players.
The likes of Manchester United and Manchester City appear to have found a way against teams who field a low-block system. However, it must be frustrating for Klopp to see that Liverpool can’t do the same despite having excellent players at their disposal.
A lot of their problems could be chalked up to Klopp’s excessive use of counter-attacking since teams seem happy to relinquish the ball and await their chance, exactly like Burnley. Besides, Klopp used most of his attacking options last night and yet things did not work which might suggest that its perhaps time for him to alter his system.