Liverpool’s 3-1Triumph Over Burnley
Man of the Match: Curtis Jones
At the beginning of the 2023/24 campaign, the regenerated Liverpool v2.0 would have been looking for a new array of leaders, new levels maturity, and new consistency from the depth of the restructured Merseyside squad. In moving on Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Naby Keïta, and Roberto Firmino, there was a loss of huge and long-standing personalities that would have still been important to the day-to-day operation of the playing staff, if lacking in their individual match day performances.
Trent Alexander Arnold was elevated to the vice captain’s role, whereas Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson were made the third and fourth lieutenants to their beloved German manager. Virgil was always the skipper in waiting, which meant the leadership table was set for others to surround and follow. What I have seen this season, however, is two individuals stand up and demand to be the other guys that their manager can depend upon, with their long serving roles finally being matched by some brilliantly consistent outings.
📊 Curtis Jones did fantastic today. Even when stepping into the right-back role.
• Created the second most chances on the pitch (3).
• Won 2/2 attempted tackles
• Made the joint second most recoveries for #LFC (6).
Really stepped up when Klopp needed him… pic.twitter.com/JF1ZIop8el
— AnfieldIndex (@AnfieldIndex) February 10, 2024
Curtis Jones: Liverpool’s New Midfield Maestro
Joe Gomez is one of those players, whereas the other is today’s man of the match, Curtis Jones.
Having watched this homegrown asset evolve into something not dissimilar to the legendary Georginio Wijnaldum, there is now an astonishing level of on and off ball play that is being reliably placed upon the shoulders of the 6ft 1inch local academy graduate.
Where once I saw an exciting player that may break into the front three back up brigade or offer the viable alternative to an always injured Ox, what I am seeing now is a Swiss Army Knife of a footballer, that will simply do what is needed for the team.
The Burnley Challenge: Test of Adaptability
Today’s game against Burnley would have had the Axa training ground preparations marred by flu, as much of the country has endured some kind of cough or cold in the last few weeks. An inability to train properly, devise the much-needed system plan, or even be at peace with those selected, would have been disjointed by all the above.
It was clear that some starters were off their game, whereas certain roles were being undertaken next to pieces that were maybe unfamiliar with one another. What Curtis allowed in the first half was a common midfield outlet and holder of possession, against a stubborn and energetic adversary.
What he allowed in the second period was a brilliantly professional performance at right back, which was once considered too much for even the former captain, Jordan Henderson. Though I do not see the future England starter as a direct James Milner replacement, he is now offering something that this group needs, especially by soon to be departed manager.
🏴 Harvey Elliott has already broken his personal best for goal contributions in a single season in the Premier League.
He now has 5 goal contributions in just 3 starts this season and 560 total minutes.
Averaging a goal or assist every 112 minutes. pic.twitter.com/VgGkI2Akxg
— Bence Bocsák (@BenBocsak) February 10, 2024
Path Forward: Liverpool’s Ambition to Conquer League
The stats listed in the link show how good the man of the match was, whilst the likes of Jarell Quansah, Caoimhin Kelleher, Wataru Endō, and the half time substitute, Harvey Elliott, all enjoyed very good outings that enabled a rather staggered showing from a good few.
One man stood slightly above those key performers mind, which is fast becoming a regular theme. In terms of the overall experience, changes must be made and players need to improve.
Time to get better, time to go and win the Premier League.
Steve Smith’s Pre-match Prediction:
Liverpool 4 – 1 Burnley