After an abysmal defensive performance that saw Liverpool lose 2-0 away at promoted Burnley, Stephen King analyses the game.
Jürgen Klopp made two changes for this game away at Burnley from the team that overturned Arsenal last time out. James Milner came into the team at left back in place of the much maligned Alberto Moreno who Klopp defended in media outings during the week. The second change saw Daniel Sturridge given his Premier League start, in the place of the injured Sadio Mané who picked up a shoulder injury in training during the week.
The team shaped up as same as last week with Sturridge out wide on the right from the kick off. So more of the same was expected from the Liverpool fans. Quick pressing and move into to attack with menace and purpose. That’s exactly what happened to be fair too but from the Burnley lads.
We looked slow again and sloppy in possession, which inevitably led to the sloppy cross field pass from Ragnar Klavan to Nathaniel Clyne. It was behind him with pace and when Clyne did turn with the ball he produced a woeful weak pass infield which was pounced upon by Butnley forward Sam Vokes who went on a run in to the Liverpool box to strike with efficient accuracy into Simon Mignolet’s bottom right corner.
The rest of the half for Liverpool was spent with a lot of possession and poor passing. Poor runs being made inside and Daniel Sturridge continually coming deep to pick up the ball in areas where the Burnley defence would only be too happy to see the Liverpool striker.
And it was this that helped to lead to Burnley’s second goal. Sturridge was easily dispossessed of the ball on the half way line and a series of missed tackles by Klavan and Jordan Henderson (who should have simply forced Gray wide) let Gray turn inside in the box and shoot low away from Mignolet again. Another goal taken with efficiency of effort and a great deal of help from our sloppy play.
Half time came without the saviour of a goal from Phillipe Couthino like last week although not for the want of trying on his behalf. He just didn’t have his shooting boots on today. Three efforts all go high and wide in that half on the same side of the goal as he likes to cut in from the left as usual.
The second half again needed a change in position for Henderson and some tweaking up front. Mostly to keep Sturridge as a threat nearer the box and to get the ball forward to those areas quicker and into the space better.
Into the second half no changes in personnel as expected but Daniel Sturridge did start to stay up front more with more in support from Firmino and Coutinho. Both the later getting shots off in the early minutes from edge of the box to at least make the Burnley keeper work. Something which we didn’t do in the first half. Adam Lallana and Henderson saw more of the ball further forward but Georghino Winjaldum seemed to have been passed by mostly in the game, not being able to influence it like last week.
But as the second half went on our inability to break down yet again a compact team and with no ball available over the top with Sadio Mané’s absence we looked inept and were reduced to cross field passing. Making us far too easy to defend against. Although at one stage in the second half Liverpool had 85% possession of the ball that usually only ended in pot shots from impossible angles when we ran out of ideas and options. Couthino being guilty more so than most but not alone.
Divock Origi was introduced for Sturridge after the hour mark to increase Liverpool’s presence in the box and give that option of a cross into a danger area which we failed to get into all day.
Further introductions of Alberto Moreno and Marko Grujic followed as a last throw of the dice,with Grujic getting a half chance on the edge of the box but again failing with the shot to trouble anyone.
As for Burnley they surely will be delighted with the 3 points and the fashion in which they defended against an attacking formation which Liverpool employed in vain. Up front Andre Gray and Sam Vokes were a thorn in the side of Liverpool’s central back pairing to the extent that Gray pulled onto Klavan at every chance he got knowing he had the pace on him to get behind and cause panic,which he did several times and was maybe unfortunate not to add to his first half goal also.
Today as we all knew going into this game, it would provide us with a useful guide to our real improvement, if any since last term. We all too often have failed to break down these so called “smaller teams” and show the consistency needed to provide a title charge let alone get into the top four.
On this evidence we failed miserably today on every aspect of that. Sloppy all over the pitch both in possession and when trying to close down space. Our defence was left wide open when obviously pace was going to trouble us and we showed a distinct lack of knowledge in what to do with the ball on the edge of the opposition box.
Pace troubles us more than it should in defence as proved by a team that had only a few chances on goal but scored 2 of them with apparent ease.
Andre Gray probably the Man Of The Match with his pace, aggression and directness. Something we lacked.
Klopp will not be happy at all with what he’s seen in the last 2 games in defence. The fact he still has time to buy may well be a decision he feels he has to make sooner rather than later.
Written by @StephenKing75