Three Things We Learnt from Liverpool Vs Burnley

Liverpool, playing against a bottom half side at home. There was a time when such a fixture would have led to predictions of a rout for the minnows. Now, they come with genuine hopes of getting points from Anfield. Unfortunately, more often than not in the last three seasons, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have justified that hope. The art of pocketing three points against the bottom half side is something that Liverpool is forgetting quickly.

From the start, Burnley looked confident of doing something they had not accomplished since 1974 – winning points at Anfield. They put men behind the ball, let Liverpool keep the possession and take as many low-xG shots as they wanted. But, when they got a chance to float long balls and crosses inside Liverpool’s box, they looked menacing. Whether from dead-ball situations or in live play, a ball soaring towards Matip and Klavan had the Liverpool defence quivering. Such a ball was eventually their undoing.

As the looping header from Brady fell at the edge of their box, both the central defenders could not cope with Chris Wood’s aerial capability. They could not latch onto the second-ball either, which allowed Arfield to slot in a great shot. Mohamed Salah quickly equalised, but that was the last opening that Burnley allowed. So, what did we, and hopefully Liverpool learn from another disappointing draw?

Liverpool’s Constant Rotation Will Hurt Them This Season

Every Football Manager player with a season under his belt knows that constant chopping and changing is the quickest way to a sack. This season, the way Klopp is rotating his players, it seems he is using a lottery system. Before the international break, he brought in Karius without any explanation and then dropped him immediately against Manchester City. Yesterday, for some reason he felt the need to make seven changes to the side that played against Sevilla on Wednesday.

Benching Lovren could be understandable but dropping Wijnaldum and Moreno – two attacking options – when Liverpool needed an all-out attack was baffling. Their next match is a Carabao Cup against Leicester City on Tuesday night and the season is still young. The players should be able to play at least two games in a week, and Klopp should know which games are higher-priority. More dropped points such as these can put the Reds’ top-four aspirations in jeopardy.

Shot Volume Does Not Mean Goals

This is especially true when the opponent is Burnley. Burnley defended extremely well, restricting the space for the Reds’ forwards to shoot well and blocking the shots when Liverpool shot on target. Liverpool had 35 shots yesterday for a total xG of 2.24, i.e. on an average; each shot had 6.4 percent chance of being a goal. Further, Nick Pope was in Heatonesuqe form as he saved 8 shots that the defenders could not block. Thus, thanks to some excellent defending from Burnley, Liverpool actually had only 17 low-quality shots.

Trent Alexander-Arnold Needs to Improve His Crossing

Despite Andy Robertson’s great game against a similarly defensive Crystal Palace, for some reason, Liverpool chose to cross primarily from the right side yesterday. And as Salah was busy trying to find space behind the defence, the primary crosser was Trent Alexander Arnold. He put in 10 crosses (out of a total 19 from the right), and found a Red with only two of those. One of the 10 was a brilliant floating cross that Sturridge should have anticipated better, but others were pretty poor and over-hit. In Klopp’s system, the full-backs have to shoulder creative responsibilities and to do it well, and they need to understand the positioning of their teammates better. TAA lacked that understanding yesterday.

Conclusion

Liverpool’s inability to breakdown sturdy and smart defences is gaining legendary status and displays such as yesterday enhance it significantly. Combined with comic defensive frailties of their own, it has the portents to be very dangerous for Liverpool’s aspirations this season.

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