Joel Matip was phenomenal at the back while Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane scored as Liverpool beat Burnley 2-0 to continue their perfect start to the season.
Liverpool were in total control for large parts of the game and but for some gritty defending by their visitors Burnley, the winning margin would have been much bigger. At the back, Liverpool’s own defenders defended diligently, keeping the Burnley attackers at bay for the most part.
The Reds took the lead midway through the first half when Kostas Tsimikas set Diogo Jota up with a peach of a curling cross. Shortly after, Liverpool thought they had doubled their advantage with a brilliant finish from Mohamed Salah, whose goal was chalked off as he was offside when he received the ball.
Burnley were battered a bit at times when Liverpool charged forward but they took the game to their hosts as well. However, their resistance ended in the 69th minute, when Sadio Mane scored from close range after receiving the ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold. With the three points, Liverpool have gone to the top of the table temporarily, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Alisson Becker: 8/10
While he was not kept too busy in goal by Burnley, Alisson still had to work pretty hard to preserve his clean sheet, making three saves to earn his second shut-out in as many games. A couple of saves were right out of the top drawer, while his passing was usually solid. Job well done.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 8.5/10
Alexander-Arnold’s strong start to the season continued and this time around, he got an assist to boot with his superb performance. A constant outlet down the right flank, Alexander-Arnold played a game-high seven key passes, while the deft cross for Sadio Mane’s goal was simply sumptuous. Solid at the back at the same time, he won four duels while completing three clearances.
Joel Matip: 9/10
Once again preferred as Virgil van Dijk’s partner at the heart of the Liverpool defence, Matip showed why he is the first-choice option for Jurgen Klopp at the moment. Simply commanding at the back, the experienced defender kept Ashley Barnes quiet smartly and did not lose a single duel on the ground. In all, he won 12 duels while completing 6 clearances. Top notch.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
While Matip stood out as a domineering presence in the defensive phases, van Dijk was typically unassuming himself while keeping the Liverpool backline disciplined for the most part. Made seven clearances while winning five duels and even playing a key pass. Such a difference maker at the back.
Kostas Tsimikas: 8/10
Given yet another chance to impress, Tsimikas once again grabbed his opportunity with both hands as he posed a lot of threat in the final third with his deliveries, even grabbing an assist with a pinpoint cross for Diogo Jota. Only Alexander-Arnold played more key passes than his four while he was also diligent in his defensive duties. Has filled in brilliantly in Andrew Robertson’s absence.
Harvey Elliott: 8/10
Harvey Elliott was fouled more times than any other player against Burnley (5).
A tricky customer. 🪄 pic.twitter.com/81cY9GKi60
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 21, 2021
A surprise starter, Elliott’s selection pointed towards the fact that he might well be seen as a long-term successor for Georginio Wijnaldum. The move to deploy the teenage prodigy in midfield worked wonders as well, with the player impressive with some of his passes as well as the kind of awareness he showed in the middle of the park. Played three key passes as well in a complete display.
Jordan Henderson: 8/10
Back in the starting lineup after proving his match fitness, Henderson was simply delightful and showed that he still has so much to offer to this Liverpool side. Some of his accurate first-time passes were sublime, releasing Liverpool for their express counter-attacking moves. Defensively, he was solid as ever, denying Burnley the chance to progress through the middle.
Naby Keita: 8/10
Retained in the starting lineup after a decent enough showing last week, Keita stepped up further, vindicating Klopp’s decision to favour his selection. Showed a lot of spatial awareness while his hold-up play created space for Tsimikas time and space to whip in the ball for Jota for the first goal. Worked hard off the ball as well, winning three tackles and four duels.
Mohamed Salah: 7/10
A frustrating afternoon for Salah, who was denied multiple times for the goal that never came. First he thought he had scored from close range only to be denied by an offside call. Salah was then blocked from close range while also having a couple of other efforts saved by Nick Pope. Could have had a brace on another day.
Diogo Jota: 7.5/10
Diogo Jota has now scored in three of his last four Premier League games for Liverpool.
His first at Anfield since November 2020. ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/xOdvu5SkQE
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 21, 2021
A second goal in as many games for Jota, who was handed another start ahead of Roberto Firmino. The Portuguese international carried a lot of threat with his movement, and it was this trait that helped him ghost his way into the box before nodding in the opener. Was here there and everywhere, all while misplacing just one pass all game. Top class effort.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
After going goalless in the opening game of the season, it seemed as if history was going to repeat itself for Mane, who had different plans. While some of his passing efforts were sub-par, he never was found wanting for a lack of effort and the movement leading up to his goal was all class. Up and running for the season.
Thiago Alcantara: N/A
On for his first appearance of the season, Thiago got ten minutes on the pitch to get the feel of the match conditions late on.
Roberto Firmino: N/A
On for Jota, Firmino did not have much time to make an impact.
Joe Gomez: N/A
A late introduction, Gomez helped see the game out.