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Liverpool v Burnley A Liverpool Perspective
Another in what is becoming a predictable pattern of games this season. Liverpool dominate possession, create opportunities to score, fail to put the ball into the net and start to lose more and more confidence. Then they look less and less likely to score and the chances become less frequent. All the while the opponent just sits back and waits for chances to hit on the break.
I do think that it is no coincidence that this is happening as the players start to come back from injury. A big part of the problem is the lack of understanding between players all over the pitch. It is also not helped by the requirement for the full-backs to be more restrained in their play due to the defensive issues.
The good thing is that there is still only a 6 point gap to the leaders, despite having not played well so far this season, so there is plenty to be hopeful about. If it does click soon, then this season could still be a successful one. For now though, it is a case of hoping for a bit of luck to go Liverpool’s way to spark a bit of form.
You really have to congratulate the Clarets for their performance. Yes they may have got lucky with the decision for the penalty, as Barnes was the one committing the foul by initiating contact, but they played well to keep themselves in the game. At the start of each half, while fresh and able to do so, they pressed higher to stop Liverpool being able to make use of their own freshness to get at them. Then Burnley would gradually drop deeper and deeper, conserving energy, keeping bodies in position to block anything played in.
Although it could be argued Barnes was lucky not to have been sent off at half-time, as he was on a yellow when he jumped into Fabinho, both looked to have kicked out initially, but he also made a second kicking motion at Fabinho. As Fabinho was booked for what looked to be a kick out, surely Barnes, who looked to kick out twice and made the initial foul, should have been booked as well? Either that or neither should have been booked. It was also bizarre that VAR only looked to see if Fabinho should have been given a straight red and not if Barnes did anything wrong as well.
The Clarets are showing the benefits of having their first choice centre-back partnership fit and in place together to work in tandem. It is noticeable that they were in poor form at the start of the season, when both Mee and Tarkowski were out and their form only improved when they were both fit.
However, it must be said that, whether lucky or not to win, they definitely did deserve to get a point at least. Their style of play is not particularly pleasant on the eye, but it is effective, though heavily reliant on Barnes ‘buying’ setpieces they can load into the box. He is one of the very best in the game at ‘winning’ a decision when he is the one committing a foul and that means they do not need to get the ball down and play it to be dangerous.
Klopp – clearly getting frustrated with the team with the way they are playing. The lack of confidence is quite baffling in a team that strolled away with the title last season. He is trying to make changes, but his lack of trust in Phillips is a major issue in my opinion. Just being able to move Fabinho back into midfield would solve so many of the problems of the season. For starters it would free up the full-backs to bomb forward and that has been somthing that is sorely missed this season. Phillips may not be the greatest centre-back in the game, but he is an actual centre-back that can defend and that is what is needed.
It was particularly noticeable against Burnley as there is no front screen without Fabinho. For all his undoubted ability, Thiago is not the best defensively and does not provide that solidity in front of the centre-backs. Against Burnley, it meant they had an extra 10 yards of the pitch in front of the centre-backs to play a ball into, while still giving the two forwards a chance to get on the end of it. If Fabinho is there, he picks those off, without him it requires the centre-back moving onto it, risking being caught in behind, as they could have been a number of times with better timed runs from Barnes and Wood.
Having no front screen also means they can play it slightly shorter and give their midfield a chance to get up with play to win knockdowns or loose balls. With Fabinho there, the ball has to go longer and then a slightly overhit ball is just mopped up by Alisson. Anything short is picked up in midfield and they struggle to build any kind of attack. Thiago just does not provide that front screen at all and it meant every ball was a straight fight between Burnley’s forwards and the centre-backs.
Alisson – made one big error dropping a catch, but immediately made up for it afterwards. Other than that he was very good and was extremely unlucky with the penalty call.
Alexander-Arnold – I have seen a lot of complaints about the balls he was putting into the box not being converted, but most were played into the right areas, there was just nobody offering the right run. Too many players going to the same area and no one reading where the cross would have to be played. Every forward is just rushing into the goal, dragging the defence away and leaving a big hole between them and midfield around the edge of the box but not one Liverpool player was getting into the space. The movement inside the box and lack of thought from forward players is terrible at the moment.
Matip – he is consistently getting caught in behind and it is only poor timing by Burnley’s forwards that saved him. I hope it was just a sign of rustiness, but it is a worry without Van Dijk there to provide the cover.
Fabinho – nearly cost a goal when he was caught on his heels waiting for the ball to come to him in the penalty box, rather than going and clearing it. Overall he played very well considering the lack of a front screen to help him and he was being targeted with the long balls. The partnership with Matip does need work though, as they spent most of the game split too far apart.
Robertson – the more restrained way he is having to play now does not suit him and his performances have dipped. A lot of that is no doubt down to needing a rest.
Thiago – he is playing far too deep to be effective, far too often he was dropping behind the centre-backs. It meant he saw far too little of the ball and could not really create much. The bigger worry is that it put pressure on the weakest facet of his game – his defending.
Shaqiri – in the first half he was the most effective of the midfield trio (a low bar admittedly) finding spaces behind the Burnley midfield. His final ball was suffering the same problem as Alexander-Arnold’s, with little in the way of movement to pick out. When Salah came on, the pair of them kept tripping over each other trying to get to the same balls and making the same runs, until Salah wandered off the right flank.
Wijnaldum – one excellent run aside he was, quite frankly, pointless. He is not forceful or aggressive enough on and off the ball. At times it feels like he is hiding.
Mane – his confidence looks completely shot. Every time he got the ball he was taking far too many touches. Inside the box his movement was not the best, but outside it was very good.
Origi – wasted a great chance one-on-one with the keeper and had a couple of long-range shots that amounted to nothing much. The big worry is just how little attempt he makes to attack the box. If he moves out wide to link up play there is little attempt to then get in there afterwards. At one point he linked up really well on the left with Robertson, playing Robertson in to attack towards the byline. Then he just stood around watching, gently strolling towards the box, when he had time to get in and potentially be on the end of a ball in. He is just too laid back to make the most of his talent.
Oxlade=Chamberlain – struggled to get involved. He really does not look comfortable in a wide forward position, Minamino would surely have been a better option.
Salah – came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 57th minute. Worked hard but it really is just not coming off for him at the moment. His play is becoming tentative.
Firmino – replaced Origi in the 57th minute. Needs to work on his finishing and to forget the flicks for a bit.
Minamino – was brought on in place of Shaqiri in the 84th minute. Never managed to get into the match.
Written by Tris Burke January 22 2021 14:54:37