Friday 22 September 2017

Old failings continue to undermine Klopp progress

Liverpool 1 Burnley 1

Jurgen Klopp can’t hide his frustration as Liverpool fail to put Burnley away at Anfield. Photo: Reuters
Jurgen Klopp can’t hide his frustration as Liverpool fail to put Burnley away at Anfield. Photo: Reuters

Mark Critchley

Jurgen Klopp is closing in on his two-year anniversary at Anfield and though there has been clear progress, his project has been held back by two consistent failings: conceding goals too easily and failing to break down deep-lying defences. This draw with Burnley provided a microcosm of Liverpool's problems.

Sean Dyche's side are exactly the sort of team that Klopp's Liverpool have struggled against and this was the type of result that is priced at long odds on a bookmakers' board but always seems so predictable in hindsight.

Burnley's Scottish-born Canadian midfielder Scott Arfield (2nd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal. Photo: Getty Images
Burnley's Scottish-born Canadian midfielder Scott Arfield (2nd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal. Photo: Getty Images

Burnley scored with their first shot on target, with Scott Arfield exposing more poor defensive play to put the visitors ahead. Liverpool responded through Mohamed Salah, but failed to find a second, despite racking up 34 attempts in total. Yet, for all their supremacy, they never led at any point.

They were unlucky, perhaps, not to see a late flurry of chances produce a winning goal, but by the final whistle, Anfield regulars were left asking the usual questions.

Klopp made seven changes from the frustrating mid-week draw with Sevilla, and having received a warm reception from the Anfield crowd as a substitute that night, Philippe Coutinho made his first start since attempting to force through a move to Barcelona.

His invention in the centre of the park would be needed without Sadio Mane, who served the first part of his three-match ban for his dangerous challenge on Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson at the Etihad a week earlier.

Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool attempts to get past Jack Cork of Burnley. Photo: Getty Images
Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool attempts to get past Jack Cork of Burnley. Photo: Getty Images

Burnley, meanwhile, were also arguably without their best player. Tom Heaton underwent surgery on an injured shoulder earlier this week and was replaced in goal by Nick Pope.

The pattern of play was established early on, with Liverpool enjoying near-total control of possession as they searched for ways through.

One mazy Joel Matip run almost did the trick, but when the centre-back slipped in Salah, the Egyptian was tripped by James Tarkowski. The Kop appealed, but referee Roger East was not listening.

For all the hosts' dominance, Dyche will have been confident that his side needed just one chance to take the lead and so it came to pass. After a long punt out the back, Trent Alexander-Arnold was too easily beaten in an aerial duel with Robbie Brady. Matip and Ragnar Klavan were drawn to the winger's high, looping header and only once they had each failed to collect the loose ball, they realised they had a Burnley man free on the edge of the area. It could not have been easier for Arfield, who slotted first-time past a helpless Mignolet.

Liverpool were back on terms four minutes later, when Emre Can's lofted ball over the top found Salah, who managed to squeeze a shot between two Burnley bodies and inside Pope's near post. Anfield celebrated, more in relief than joy.

Klopp's side came close to finally taking the lead in the closing stages. First, Alexander-Arnold's volley was stopped by Pope's chest, but the teenager was undeterred. After seeing Salah denied a penalty from a hefty Ben Mee challenge, he played on and crossed for substitute Dominic Solanke, who hit the crossbar while attempting to open his Liverpool account. It was his side's best chance of the second half but it was too little too late. Independent

Sunday Indo Sport

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport