Weakened Reds Win at Turf Moor
At the risk of sounding like Brendan Rodgers – I thought we showed great character against Burnley. Snatching a win at Turf Moor is never easy, and if you add in the context of a heavily rotated side going down 1-0 to a sloppy goal in the second half, it makes the result even more impressive.
Burnley bundled home the opener from a corner through Jack Cork, but in a manner that’s only started to emerge recently, Liverpool battled back against a defensive side away to win definitively.
Milner got us back into the game with a clever finish beyond Joe Hart before Firmino tapped home a well-worked set-piece routine. The Reds endured some nervy moments towards the end of the game before Shaqiri secured the result from a counter-attack.
Alisson – 8
Another week; another outstanding display by our ‘keeper. Alisson struggled early with some uncharacteristically wayward passing, but he more than made up for that with the rest of his performance.
Burnley were unable to trouble him until they scored their goal. The defence weren’t much help as the opposition were able to win the header too easily, and almost latch on to the second ball, before booting it out of Alisson’s grasp. The ‘keeper could’ve been stronger, but he can’t accept too much of the blame. His late save off the crossbar was nothing short of heroic and certainly rescued two points for the team. Money well spent.
Joe Gomez – 6
Gomez had little to do before being worryingly stretchered off after just 23 minutes.
It looked like a serious injury, and Klopp confirmed that Gomez will be getting scans to assess the situation. All fans will be praying that he’s back very soon.
Joel Matip – 6
Matip wasn’t too bad, but he did little to make the fans forget about their concerns for Gomez and the latter’s importance at centre-back.
Matip looked understandably rusty, and he’ll get more minutes during December and early January, but even with some leniency due to rustiness, the Cameroonian didn’t look particularly comfortable. He got better as the game went on though, so hopefully there’s still some life in his Liverpool career yet.
Virgil van Dijk – 8
VVD was back to his best against Burnley and helped the makeshift defence over the line to victory. One or two passes aside, his distribution was typically on point, and as usual, he was utterly dominant in the air.
He had a chance to snatch a goal, but couldn’t direct his header past Hart; he did make up for it with an assist though. VVD acrobatically got on the end of an Alexander-Arnold cross and directed the ball into the path of Firmino. A complete performance from the big man.
Alberto Moreno – 6
Moreno wasn’t too bad. Nobody wanted to see his name on the teamsheet, even if Robbo needed and deserved a rest. The memories of some of the Spaniard’s worst moments is too much to let go of for most supporters.
Regardless, Moreno did okay without getting close to Robbo’s level, but he never let the team down before getting hooked off midway through the second half.
Jordan Henderson – 6.5
Hendo returned to the starting lineup after missing the Everton game through suspension. However, it was more of the same from our captain, passing backwards and slowing down the play. His most memorable moment was when he slipped over.
He did improve in the second half though, and even played some forward passes. Crucially, he managed to snuff out a dangerous looking Burnley attack late in the game and did well to release Salah, but nothing came from the chance. If Hendo can play every game the way he did the second half, then maybe he’ll get some slack from his critics, even if he can’t fully win them over.
Naby Keita – (Man of the Match) 8.5
What a time to kick-start your Liverpool career. Keita was simply brilliant on the day and deserved to get on the score sheet for his efforts, but he was denied what would’ve been two stunning goals.
The first came from a powerful run followed by a booming shot, but Hart just got a fingertip to the ball to parry it onto the post. He then almost converted an outrageous backheel finish, but the ball was cleared off the line. Despite this, Keita was immense and looked like the player we’d all been hoping for since his debut against West Ham.
James Milner – 8
Milner was one of the best players in the team at the start of the campaign, but for whatever reason, he’d been going through a dip in form in the last run of games. He was one of deciding factors in the victory against Burnley though.
Aside from his clinical finish to get his team back into the game, Milner was running the show with Keita and almost set Sturridge up for a goal. He finished the game at left-back when Moreno went off and incredibly, was still just as involved from the back.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 7
Shaq would’ve gotten a 6 if he didn’t score, as he was unusually quiet for most of the game, especially in the first half. Part of it was likely down to not having the usual front three ahead of him, but regardless, he wasn’t involved enough.
Like most of the players, he got better as the game went on and he made a good run and classy finish to send the fans home singing. He’s a handy player to have when one or more of Mane, Salah, and Firmino aren’t playing.
Divock Origi – 7
Similar to Shaq, Origi gets a higher score because he registered the assist that got Liverpool back into the contest. Klopp was right to give him a chance, and this is hopefully another step in the right direction.
He worked hard, but he still appears to be suffering from his lengthy spell on the sidelines, meaning he’s not quite on the same wavelength as the rest of the team.
Daniel Sturridge – 6.5
Studge was too wasteful at times against Burnley, which isn’t something that you’d typically associate with such a prolific striker.
He was involved in the buildup to Shaq’s goal, but he got caught in possession far too often and on other occasions couldn’t control the ball when chances presented themselves. He was far better in the second half though and got a good shot off just after the break.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – (on for Gomez 23′) 6
Trent came on to replace the injured Gomez and had a mixed performance.
He was largely at fault for Burnley’s goal as he was beaten far too easily at the back post, but he produced a beautiful curling cross to VVD for our second goal from an awkward location. It’s rare that you see a goal scored in that manner when the position of the free-kick provides no angle.
Mo Salah – (on for Moreno 65′) 7
Salah was extremely lively when he came on and caused Burnley all sorts of problems. An assist was a fair reward for his solid cameo.
Firmino – (on for Origi 65′) 7
Bobby tapped in the second goal from his first touch and worked hard for the rest of his time on the pitch.
Simon Mignolet, Rafa Camacho, Fabinho, and Adam Lallana.
Jurgen Klopp – 8
Klopp took a gamble on his heavily rotated side. If it didn’t work, then we all would’ve rightfully slated him for it, so now that it has worked, he deserves a proportionate amount of credit for the decision. He couldn’t have done anything about Gomez getting injured, but apart from that, it’s certain that many of our best players will have benefited from not having to play 90 minutes.
Likewise, this had the added effect of allowing certain rotational players a chance to prove themselves, and in the case of Keita in particular, that also paid off. The result and performance means that Klopp can now rotate when needed, and the players themselves will have the confidence to take their chances with both hands.
The manager should also be applauded for bringing Firmino and Salah on with plenty of time for them to change the game instead of leaving it too late which he’s been guilty of doing at times in the past.
Concern for Gomez
Gomez copped a hefty challenge from Ben Mee which sent him tumbling over the pitch and he got his leg caught in a nasty position. It was the only significant negative to take away from the game, but one that could have severe consequences for Liverpool’s season.
Klopp was notably upset when discussing the incident saying, “Joe is injured and probably not only a little bit. We have to see tomorrow. It’s [his] ankle, yes. After the first challenge, a sliding tackle from seven or eight yards, I said to the ref: ‘Please tell them you can’t do that’. Someone has to say ‘stop doing that’.” Scans will reveal the extent of the injury.
We’re all hoping that it’s nothing serious, but the signs don’t look good. If he’s going to be out for an extended period of time, then Liverpool face a genuine dilemma. Do we put our faith in Lovren and Matip to step up to the high standards that Gomez has set? Or do we try and bring in a quality replacement in January?
This was the Keita that we’d thought Liverpool had purchased; the player that we’ve only seen the briefest of glimpses of since his tremendous debut at home against West Ham.
He was Liverpool’s main man against Burnley because he was in control of the majority of the game and was constantly getting the ball moving quickly from the middle to the final third. He did so with both his dribbling and his passing, and his confidence grew with every success.
His ability to launch attacks quickly and link up with those around him with slick passes is something that Liverpool have missed since Ox’s injury, so hopefully Keita can fill that void. If he does, then it could be the spark that allows Liverpool to return to the kind of play that took Europe by storm last season.
This is where a season can unravel quickly if your team isn’t mentally tough, physically fit, and of course, blessed with a bit of luck.
However, Liverpool look a different beast now and are fully capable of winning games when the going gets tough and when our stars aren’t performing or even on the pitch. Wins breed confidence, and Liverpool should have plenty to help carry them through the rest of the month. Likewise, Klopp’s decision to rotate heavily may give certain players an extra 10% in the tank to keep performing to a high level before their next break.
Next up, Liverpool are away again at Bournemouth, before returning to Anfield for that crucial clash with Napoli and the match against Manchester United. Those three games are played over only 9 days, but their importance and difficulty are such that further rotation would appear unlikely. That 9 day period will be the most important in the season for the club so far.