Burnley 0 – 2 Liverpool – The Postmortem 

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This was a game that should not and did not worry the Reds, despite one or two moments of frustration for the travelling fans. The home team’s talented stopper, James Trafford, was in sensational form throughout this game, whilst his own team could not hit the opposing target once. If not for several impressive and courageous interventions by the Clarets’ keeper, the score would have gotten away from the relegation-fighting club. Overall, Vincent Kompany should be delighted with the performance of his number one between the sticks, as he kept a losing battle in balance for so long. Ultimately, the massive possession and quality of Jürgen Klopp’s men were enough to ensure all three points were taken, in a very entertaining Boxing Day contest. The injuries have been gradually building through the LFC 2023/24 campaign, so it was relieving to see the squad escape unscathed and more importantly, victorious.

Team Formation: The Starting Eleven

  • Alisson Becker
  • Trent Alexander Arnold
  • Virgil van Dijk (c)
  • Jarell Quansah
  • Joe Gomez
  • Ryan Gravenberch
  • Harvey Elliott
  • Wataru Endō
  • Mohamed Salah
  • Cody Gakpo
  • Darwin Núñez

Subs

  • Curtis Jones – Ryan Gravenberch (66 mins)
  • Luis Díaz – Cody Gakpo (66 mins)
  • Dominik Szoboszlai – Harvey Elliott (66 mins)
  • Diogo Jota – Darwin Núñez (84 mins)

Game Highlights: Goals and Key Moments

Burnley 0 – 1 Liverpool

Darwin Núñez (Cody Gakpo) 6 mins

Burnley 0 – 2 Liverpool

Diogo Jota (Luis Díaz) 90 mins

Match Analysis: Important Match Stats

  • Possession: Burnley 31% – 69% Liverpool
  • Total Shots: Burnley 8 – 19 Liverpool
  • Total Crosses: Burnley 13 – 17 Liverpool
  • Counter Attacks: Burnley 1 – 2 Liverpool
  • Corner Kicks: Burnley 4 – 4 Liverpool

First Half

The opening period of this game saw the visitors immediately take control of the possession stakes, with quick interplay and movement evident from the off. It took only six minutes before the first goal was scored, as Cody Gakpo and Joe Gomez progressed the ball forward, before the Dutch attacker played a smart pass into the feet of his Uruguayan teammate. Darwin Núñez can sometimes be guilty of overcomplicating even the simplest of chances, however, the finish for this contest’s first goal was both confident and precise. The score should have doubled on a few more occasions in that first half, as Mohamed Salah saw his endeavours thwarted, whereas Cody Gakpo had an effort ruled out for a foul, that simply never was. The initial 45 minutes ended with the six-time European Champions deservedly ahead, though only just.

Second Half

On resumption of the second half, no changes were made, as the minutes surrounding the 66th variety seem to be the alteration moments of choice. Dominance resumed very quickly and VAR once again prevented Liverpool from doubling their lead. After some delightful one and two-touch passing around the Burnley penalty box, eventually, Ryan Gravenberch found his fellow midfield colleague, Harvey Elliott, who was able to clinically pass the ball into the bottom corner. The on and off-pitch officiating then determined that the Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah, was obscuring the view of the keeper, whilst standing in an offside position. What the professional team of decision-makers failed to recognize was that he had been pushed into that offside position by a Burnley defender.

As the substitutes arrived, it gave a timely boost to the away side, who were starting to show fatigue in pursuit of that important second goal. The injection of energy finally told in the final minute of normal time, as the rampaging combination of Diogo Jota and Luis Díaz produced the moment which ended the contest. Ferocious counter-attacking play and precise finishing by the Portuguese was exactly what was needed. The weeks prior had seen too many chances spurned, as the points started to fall away from Liverpool’s grasp. The return of their most trusted penalty box poacher will help ensure certain games are won, as each point taken (or lost) could prove vital come May.

Final Reflections: What Are My Final Thoughts…?

This was a good result, especially considering that two goals were disallowed (for the Reds), where at least one should have been awarded, probably both. To turn the screw on so-called lesser teams, is allowing a culmination of points which has propelled this Liverpool 2.0 to the top of the table, in year one of its recreation. Fluency in roles is now starting to be understood within a rather complex system, one that has probably been over-engineered by the ambitious first team coach, Pepijn Lijnders. Due to the exceptional quality and ongoing performances of the central defensive group, this controversy-ridden hybrid initiative is now working, though certainly needs one or two more pieces to ensure its longevity.

Both the captain, Virgil van Dijk, and Jarell Quansah, were truly exceptional during this contest, with their colossal presence and dominance mimicking that which the Burnley manager once basked in. To move two points clear of Arsenal (who host West Ham on Thursday evening) on a night where Aston Villa gave up a two-nil lead at Old Trafford (to lose 3-2), is tremendous and something that should be built upon with New Year’s signings. The Reds came to get the win and did so with several very good showings, which included the sensational goal-scoring return of Anfield’s Portuguese poacher, Diogo Jota.

New Year’s Day is up next for the Reds, as a struggling and injury-riddled Newcastle arrive on Merseyside for a late evening kick-off, under those famous Anfield lights.

Pre-game prediction:

Burnley 1 – 3 Liverpool

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