Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
- Goals: Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) | Jay Rodriguez (£5.7m)
- Assists: Fabinho (£5.4m) | James Tarkowski (£5.2m)
- Bonus Points: Rodriguez x3, Neco Williams x3 (£4.0m), Robertson x1
Owners of Liverpool assets will feel rather hard-done-by in the wake of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley – but there were still plenty of things to be encouraged by.
Nick Pope (£5.0m) only scored three points at Anfield but he was the player who dictated proceedings and won the man of the match award for his eight saves made.
Many of these were to deny Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) from netting almost certain goal-scoring opportunities, Sadio Mané (£12.3m) involved to a lesser extent.
“It was nice to be involved. You come to big grounds like this you expect to be busy. They’re Premier League champions for a reason. You’ve got to be ready for action, so yeah I was fortunate enough to keep a couple out.” – Nick Pope
However, the fact that both assets looked dangerous all afternoon may well convince their owners to keep the faith with Arsenal (away), Chelsea (home) and Newcastle (away) their final three opponents of the season.
It wasn’t just Pope keeping Liverpool out on Saturday afternoon as the defenders in front of him were well-organised in containing their illustrious hosts. But should we expect anything else from Burnley?
“There were moments when it was like Liverpool against Nick Pope. I think it’s the biggest challenge in football to play against a team which is that well organised and create against a team that is that well organised and has such an outstanding attitude as Burnley has. But we created super chances but there was one guy who wanted to deny us and that was Nick Pope.” – Jurgen Klopp
This was best exemplified in the 10th minute when Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) ran into space on the left-hand side of the pitch, curled a great trademark cross into Salah in the middle, who looked certain to score before Kevin Long (£4.3m) slid in to make an incredible last-ditch block.
Seven minutes later, the Egyptian could not believe he hadn’t found the back of the net. Roberto Firmino (£9.4m) nodded a loose ball in the six-yard-box along to Salah just outside of it. He fired a fierce volley from close-range at the top-corner only to watch Pope fly through the air and produce a fabulous save. Against nearly every other goalkeeper in the Premier League, that might have gone in.
In the 32nd minute, Salah pounced on a wayward backpass from Josh Brownhill (£4.8m) and pressed towards Pope’s goal, only to see his hard and low effort denied by the goalkeeper’s sprawling feet.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, it was Mané’s turn to witness a piece of world-class shot-stopping from the Burnley man. Robertson played a high cross to Salah who slid the ball along to his Senegalese colleague. The £12.3m man ran along the edge of the box to find space to shoot, eventually finding some and hitting it on the turn. The ball was destined for the top corner once again until Pope somehow stretched to deny Mané.
Firmino was unlucky not to get his first Premier League at Anfield this season in the 48th minute, striking the post. Had it gone in, it would have been a Salah assist.
The Egyptian spurned two more chances later in the game. Just after the hour-mark, he was presented with a rare moment where Pope was left exposed. Georginio Wijnaldum‘s (£5.4m) shot following a corner was blocked near the edge of the box, which forced Pope onto the floor in an attempt to make an initial save. The ball popped out to Salah, who had at least half of the goal his mercy but he skied it horribly.
Then, in the 85th minute, he had the ball on the edge of the box and swept a left-footed curler towards goal but could only direct the ball into Pope’s firm clasp.
Even though none of these chances resulted in goals or assists for Salah, the fact that each of his last two outings has been the sort of shot-filled displays we came to know of him when he was at his imperious best is enough to keep him in the captaincy conversation between now and the end of the season, especially as he continues to chase the Golden Boot.
However, for all of Liverpool’s continued promise in attack, they still do not look convincing in defence, much to the frustration of those still invested in the double-up at the back.
In their last four matches, they have conceded six times, keeping just one clean sheet, and against Burnley, they were lucky not to be breached more than once.
The Clarets caused Liverpool plenty of problems in the air as the game wore on, with Alisson (£6.2m) made to work hard when coming to claim crosses through a crowd of tall bodies.
It was in the second half that Burnley started causing serious issues for their hosts, especially on the counter-attack.
Dwight McNeil (£6.0m) was, as ever, a decent outlet for the visitors and his delivery into the box remains impressive.
But it was Jay Rodriguez (£5.7m) who proved the biggest threat for Burnley, even though he shared the pitch with the usually talismanic Chris Wood (£6.1m).
In the 43rd minute, Phil Bardsley (£4.3m) managed to loft the ball over the top of Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) and Robertson, who were both playing Rodriguez onside. The forward was left with time and space in a one-on-one with Alisson, dragging his shot just wide.
The former Southampton man went even closer in the 55th minute when Brownhill crossed from a deep position. He stretched into a diving header at the back-post, forcing Liverpool’s goalkeeper into a low sprawl to bat it around the post.
Rodriguez finally got what his efforts had deserved in the 69th minute. Another tricky ball into the box was nodded down by James Tarkowski (£5.2m), where Burnley’s number 19 powered it into the bottom corner on the turn.
The £5.7m man now has attacking returns in four of his five starts since the Premier League restart, more than any other Burnley forward, which bodes well ahead of a Gameweek 37+ meeting with Norwich.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.9m), whose substitute appearance could see him reclaim the right-midfield spot from Erik Pieters (£4.2m), also went close to netting a winning goal at Anfield.
Ashley Westwood (£5.5m) whipped in a dangerous cross and, after a half-clearance, Gudmundsson crashed his effort onto the crossbar.
“I know people say we sit deep and try to counter but it is not always the plan trust me. Sometimes it is that the opposition is really good. Today there was a clear attempt to go and win the game. We had a chance with Johann playing a ball into Vydra behind their back four and Johann hitting the bar.” – Sean Dyche
In the end, only two Liverpool defenders came away from this match with any returns for their owners. Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m) managed just 21 minutes while Robertson netted an excellent headed goal and Neco Williams (£4.0m), increasingly a threat to starts both of those established full-backs banked a clean sheet when he was substituted shortly before Burnley’s equaliser.
“It’s much more difficult for Neco to play on that side against a team who is pretty much there for counter-attacks and set-pieces, but he did really well as well. It was good, just good.” – Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, van Dijk, Gomez, N Williams (Alexander-Arnold 69′); C Jones (Keïta 69′), Wijnaldum (Oxlade-Chamberlain 81′), Fabinho; Mané, Firmino, Salah.
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope; C Taylor, Tarkowski, K Long, Bardsley; McNeil, Westwood, Brownhill, Pieters (Gudmundsson 65′); Wood (Vydra 65′), Rodriguez.
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