Liverpool found a way past Burnley in torrential conditions at Turf Moor yesterday. Fabinho gave the Reds the lead in the first half after he poked home from a corner. Alisson Becker came to his side’s rescue a number of times as Liverpool moved back to within 9 points of City. We review the match.

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° The lineup. The manager made four changes to his side, with Henderson, Keita, Mané and Salah coming in for Jones, Thiago, Diaz, and Jota who had recovered from a dead leg. It saw the legendary front three reunited for the first time in a while.

° The bench. It was as strong a bench as I’ve ever seen in my time watching Liverpool, with the likes of Thiago, Jota, Diaz, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elliott etc all amongst the substitutes. Gomez, Jones, Minamino and Origi missed out on the matchday squad altogether.

° The conditions. The weather was awful yesterday, with wind and rain affecting play throughout. Balls swirled in the air as corner flags swayed about frantically. It contributed to a real battle of attrition that meant pretty football wasn’t going to be on the agenda.

It suited Burnley down to the ground with how they like to play. Liverpool had to adapt quickly to the conditions and battle their way through for every single ball. The Reds weathered the early storm (pun intended) and got the job done.

° Early pressure. The home side embraced the conditions quicker and piled on pressure with the fans getting right behind them. They created a number of opportunities but run into the impressive Alisson time after time. Brownhill and Rodriguez in particular went close.

° High line. Liverpool are known to keep a high line at the back but it seemed even higher yesterday. With Weghorst and Rodriguez not exactly known for pace, Matip and Van Dijk pushed almost all the way up to the halfway line to compress play.

Burnley obviously did their homework and swung in long ball after long ball in behind the defence for their attackers to chase. They threatened from it, or at least it felt like it, with the late offside flag not completely quelling the feeling of being under the cosh.

Alisson Becker was immense yesterday

° Alisson MOTM. The Brazilian was at his best as he braved the conditions to come sweeping out of his box to deal with those long balls in behind. He made a solid save from Brownhill’s swerving shot early on and pounced on a ball before Rodriguez could pull the trigger. He stood tall to force Weghorst and Cornet wide in one on ones too as he bailed his side out.

Alisson vs Burnley:

• 93% pass accuracy
• 58 touches
• 42 passes completed
• 15 ball recoveries (1st)
• 11 long balls attempted
• 8 long balls completed (1st)
• 5 saves (1st)
• 1 clean sheet (1st)
• 0.81xG faced

MOTM performance 🇧🇷

° Fab with the breakthrough. It was the fifth time in the last six matches that Liverpool have broken the deadlock via a set piece, with Fabinho bundling home a Trent corner after Mané had flicked it on at the near post. It was the Brazilian’s 5th goal of the year!

° Henderson struggles. The skipper returned to the side after recovering from a back injury. He struggled throughout as he constantly panicked in possession and gave the ball away, with first touch and control not up to scratch.

A knock to the knee first half didn’t help and he was subbed before the hour mark. He only completed 50% of his passes. Hard to control a game when a midfielder is giving the ball away with every other pass. The skipper will get the benefit of the doubt but with competition fierce at the minute will have to play much better.

° Centre backs hold firm. Van Dijk and Matip had their hands full with Weghorst and Rodriguez but held their own to keep a clean sheet. They won 14 ground duels, 11 aeriel duels and registered 10 clearances between them to quell the threat of Burnley’s giants.

° Thiago cameo. Thiago came on for Henderson and oozed class and control. His ability to bring down awkward bouncing balls and play passes under pressure took the sting out of the game. His presence calmed things all the way down, with nothing of note happening in the last half hour as the Reds saw the game  out with minimum fuss.

Fabinho scored the only goal of the game

° Firmino woes. Bobby endured another below par performance as he failed to create a single chance despite getting into good positions to do so. He has looked a shadow of himself since the winter break and is now firmly behind Jota in the pecking order. He’s quietly gone seven matches without a goal too.

° Six wins in a row. All in all a gritty win to make it six in a row. The overall performance doesn’t really matter in such horrendous conditions. We outbattled and out Burnley-ed Burnley, scoring a scrappy goal Sean Dyche would have been proud if it hadn’t consigned his side to their ninth defeat of the season.

° Title race. Things could get really interesting in the coming weeks as Man City host Conte’s Spurs whilst Liverpool host Norwich and then Leeds (the rearranged fixture). The 9 point gap could be shrunk to 3/4/6 if Liverpool can win those two games. It won’t be easy with those sides seeking to avoid relegation.

° What next? A trip to the San Siro to take on Italian champions Inter Milan in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. It’s a glamourous tie between two top sides in a game the Reds have to be at their best for. These are the nights we are in it for. Let’s all enjoy these times.


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