Thursday 22 March 2018

Gray day for sloppy Liverpool

Burnley 2 Liverpool 0

Burnley’s Andre Gray celebrates scoring his side’s second goal against Liverpool at Turf Moor yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Burnley’s Andre Gray celebrates scoring his side’s second goal against Liverpool at Turf Moor yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Jamie Jackson

This was a fine way for Burnley to collect their first points of the season and a demoralising way for Liverpool to go down. Sean Dyche's men were simply hungrier than the visitors, who lacked the requisite quality in front of goal.

On this evidence Burnley have a fighting chance of staying up and Liverpool are destined for another frustrating campaign. Burnley had the dream start, which meant Liverpool's was a nightmare. Two minutes in and Nathaniel Clyne's sloppy pass ceded possession to Andre Gray. He turned the ball to Sam Vokes and a swift swivel then an emphatic 20-yard shot gave Simon Mignolet little chance.

Klopp shows displeasure from the sidelines. Photo: Getty
Klopp shows displeasure from the sidelines. Photo: Getty

This rocked Liverpool, who soon needed a last-ditch Dejan Lovren intervention to avoid going two behind. This time Gray raced clear and at the Liverpool goalkeeper. As he went to pull the trigger, in dived Lovren to take the ball cleanly and the danger was gone.

The wild conditions swirling around Turf Moor were being matched by the up-and-at-them approach of Dyche's team. Each time Burnley poured forward their fans roared them on and to Liverpool's credit they attempted to gain the foothold that would stymie the onslaught.

Read more: Liverpool's defensive failings ruthlessly exposed by clinical Burnley

Their end-product when nearing Tom Heaton's goal was deficient, however. Twice Philippe Coutinho was wasteful. The Clarets could again rove at the neon-green shirts, with Gray often hit early with a long pass.

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson and Burnley's George Boyd vie for possession. Photo: Getty
Liverpool's Jordan Henderson and Burnley's George Boyd vie for possession. Photo: Getty

Dean Marney, partnering Burnley's record signing, Steven Defour, in midfield, led the press whenever he could. Jordan Henderson was left embarrassed when Marney mugged him near his area, and Adam Lallana blushed when he later fell over in possession.

Defour was the single change from last weekend's 1-0 defeat here to Swansea City, as the £7.5m man replaced David Jones, who is now at Sheffield Wednesday. As Jones was the sole difference from the XI that ended last season - for Joey Barton - Dyche is beginning a second term leading Burnley in the top flight by showing faith in those who won promotion from the Championship.

For Jürgen Klopp, his main moves from last Sunday's 4-3 win at Arsenal were to drop the beleaguered Alberto Moreno for James Milner at left-back and select Daniel Sturridge for the injured Sadio Mané. As is his style Klopp watched from the technical area as his side probed. From a short corner taken by Coutinho, Lallana took aim but failed to finish. Then, Milner and Sturridge linked along the left before switching play right, and the move fizzled out.

Read more: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp laments players' poor decision-making at Burnley

Later, Coutinho sprayed a regulation pass beyond Milner and out. It was a microcosm of where Liverpool were failing; their edge was blunt, rather than cutting.

Now, Gray struck to send the ground into raptures and Liverpool staring at a 2-0 half-time deficit. Ragnar Klavan lost the ball near half-way, Defour skipped forward, passed right to Gray, and after he cut inside the finish was as sweet as Vokes's.

This had the faithful singing: "We love you Burnley." It had Klopp standing stony-faced. And it had his team needing to show considerable backbone if they were to engineer the comeback.

If during the break Klopp sternly informed his charges to be more ruthless, that would have been no surprise.

After the interval, Liverpool's slickest move thus far came when Sturridge danced inside and spread panic in Burnley's area.

A further warning the visitors were finally sparking came when Heaton had to sharply save Roberto Firmino's 20-yard attempt to the keeper's left. This ascendancy was the tale of Liverpool's second half. A further scare came when Heaton misjudged a Milner corner from the left before the keeper scrambled to tip it behind.

Read more: 'Our timing and decision-making was not very good' - Jurgen Klopp not happy with Liverpool flops

To turn this superiority into goals Klopp replaced Sturridge with Divock Origi on 63 minutes. Yet Liverpool still disappointed while dominating.

It is early days but these are the games any team with the title-winning pretensions Klopp is voicing have to win.

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