Liverpool win ugly to strengthen chance of a Top 4 finish
It has been said from time to time that Champions have the ability to grind out a result and win ugly. Chelsea are experts of this as were Ferguson’s Utd teams when they really dominated the league. Sadly, Liverpool haven’t really managed it, insisting on great ‘pretty’ free flowing football and dominating play. To stand a greater chance of winning the league we need a Plan B – A plan to win ugly!
After what was an enormous win against Arsenal last week, the spotlight was once turned on Liverpool and whether there would be a struggle against another side that was lower down the table.
In fact all of Liverpool’s defeats this season have been against teams in the bottom half of the table.
During the week a handful a players were stating that today’s game would be ‘The Big One’, almost acknowledging the struggles against lesser opponents.
After the shock loss to Burnley at Turf Moor in August all eyes were on Klopp and his men to see if they had learned a valuable lesson. What we couldn’t have was another lethargic display.
- Henderson, Firmino and Lovren out of action.
- Klopp makes one change to side that beat Arsenal, replacing Firmino.
- Barnes shocked the Kop as he scored for Burnley after just seven minutes.
- Wijnaldum equalised just before half-time to make it 1-1.
- Emre Can became the hero as he powered home out of nowhere to give Liverpool the lead.
- Liverpool seal back-to-back wins for first time in 2017.
Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Klavan, Milner; Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Mane, Coutinho (Woodburn 60′), Origi (Lucas 79′)
Subs not used: Karius, Gomez, Moreno, Alexander-Arnold, Wilson
Again Liverpool were far from their best and were a shade of their former selves against Arsenal. Rather unexpectedly falling behind when Ashley Barnes turned home Matthew Lowton’s brilliant defence-splitting pass. Sighs and groans ran throughout Anfield with thoughts of ‘Not Again…’
Thankfully Georginio Wijnaldum restored some order just before half-time, scoring his second goal in as many games. Emre Can’s fourth goal of the season, a long-range effort into the bottom corner ended Burnley’s stubborn resistance.
Burnley threatened to snatch an equaliser late on but Lowton hooked over from close range. Everyone’s hearts beating fast as we were clinging on for dear life. Thankfully, securing a second-successive victory, claiming an unconvincing win to strengthen a bid for a top-four finish.
It was a game of few memorable moments but the win means Liverpool remain fourth, five points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal.
Liverpool did not create a single chance in the opening 30 minutes and their first shot on target was Wijnaldum’s qualiser, in fact Emre Can’s winning shot was their second on target.
It was ultimately a clinical display by Liverpool but too many players had an off day. Coutinho needed to be at his creative best to unlock a disciplined Burnley. Managing just two successful passes into dangerous areas for Liverpool during the game. Coutinho was unsurprisingly substituted, making way for 17-year old Ben Woodburn.
World-Class player being substituted for 17-year old rookie, if ever FSG needed a scene that demonstrated our lack of strength in depth this was it!
The win may not have been pretty but that is something Liverpool have struggled to do this season and Klopp believes a corner may have been turned.
“It’s the first ugly game we’ve won,” he said.
“In the end I liked it – this is the kind of game we haven’t won and we did.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “Burnley were always in the game, it was intense and we had to fight. We had some moments, it was not only luck that we scored before half-time and it was a wonderful goal from Emre Can.”
“It is clear we have to do a few things better. We were not at our absolute best but we fought. I liked it, it is this kind of game we haven’t won until now. It feels kind of strange a little bit. Not the most memorable game but a very nice three points.”
- Liverpool have now won 16 Premier League games this season; equalling their tally of wins for the entire 2015-16 season.
- Liverpool have won 14 points from losing positions in the league this term; a joint-high with Tottenham.Ashley Barnes (10) is now just one goal short of tying with Danny Ings (11) for the most Premier League goals for Burnley.
- Liverpool conceded inside the first 10 minutes of a league game at Anfield for the first time since August 2015 (v West Ham, Manuel Lanzini).
- All 16 of Georginio Wijnaldum’s Premier League goals have been scored in home matches (five for Liverpool, 11 for Newcastle).
- Since Jurgen Klopp’s first game in charge, the Reds have scored more Premier League goals from outside the box than any other team (21).