Liverpool secured a hard-fought victory against Burnley despite not displaying their usual flair, with tensions running high during the match. Harvey Elliott played a crucial role coming off the bench.
The Anfield stadium witnessed a record crowd, but Liverpool’s performance was not up to its usual standards. Despite facing injuries and a flu outbreak within the squad, they managed to grind out a win. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s halftime withdrawal may raise concerns, although it proved pivotal in the immediate context.
Curtis Jones filled in at right-back, allowing Harvey Elliott to enter the game. Elliott once again proved his worth as a substitute, contributing two assists as Liverpool emerged with a 3-1 victory, despite conceding an equaliser.
With this result, Jurgen Klopp’s team reclaimed the top spot in the Premier League, following Manchester City’s earlier win against Everton. Klopp will be satisfied with his team’s ability to maintain pressure on their rivals, especially with Arsenal scheduled to play the following day.
However, the touchline wasn’t always calm, as Klopp and Vincent Kompany occasionally became heated. Here are the four observations Newsnow Liverpool made as the game progressed.
Kelleher Shows His Value
Liverpool experienced the setback of losing Alisson to illness, yet the fixture against Burnley appeared manageable on paper. Klopp would have been confident entrusting Caoimhín Kelleher with the goalkeeping duties.
However, Liverpool’s start was less than ideal, prompting Kelleher into action early on. Any signs of rust could have led to the hosts conceding.
Thankfully, Kelleher, who has already exceeded his previous season’s appearances, demonstrated alertness from the outset. Notably, he swiftly thwarted Zeki Amdouni’s attempt.
Initially appearing as sharp reflexes to narrow the angle, Kelleher’s efforts were even more impressive upon closer inspection. Despite Amdouni’s shot bypassing his body, Kelleher extended a robust hand to deny the ball from sneaking in at the near post.
This crucial intervention maintained parity, and in the second half, Kelleher played a pivotal role in preserving Liverpool’s lead. Despite a defensive mix-up allowing Burnley an opportunity, Kelleher remained composed, making another crucial save.
While it hasn’t been an exceptional season for Kelleher, once hailed by Klopp as the premier backup goalkeeper globally, increased exposure to first-team action has raised some doubts. Nevertheless, this performance served as a reminder of Klopp’s praise, offering a timely confidence boost ahead of the Carabao Cup final.
Double Weapon Returns
There was a moment in the first half where Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson were standing over a free kick. As James Trafford tried to see through the glare of the sun, Burnley was left guessing over who would whip the delivery into the box.
In the end it was Alexander-Arnold, and nothing came of it. But there was a palpable sense around Anfield of the danger posed as the duo conversed.
That feeling proved prescient, as Alexander-Arnold provided the opener from a corner a few minutes later. Whipped in deliciously, it tempted Trafford, leaving Diogo Jota with a reasonably simple task — and putting the number 66 back above Robertson as the all-time outright Premier League record holder for assists by a defender.
It was the first game the full-back pair had started together in months, with neither available for the bulk of 2024. In fixtures where a breakthrough is proving difficult, they pose a really potent double weapon from dead ball situations, one which the Reds have missed — although Alexander-Arnold in particular was not massively on the pace from open play, and was sacrificed at half-time as an injury precaution as Klopp turned to Elliott.
VIncent Kompany Fumes as both Managers in the Book
Klopp’s frustration simmered on the touchline during the first half, culminating in a yellow card for his animated exchange with the fourth official. Soon after, his counterpart also received a caution.
Liverpool endured a tense wait as VAR reviewed their early second-half goal. The offside decision was confirmed after a thorough check. However, Kompany voiced displeasure over the lack of action regarding Alexis Mac Allister’s challenge on Aaron Ramsey.
Kompany’s protest crossed a line, resulting in his third booking of the season. Consequently, he will be sidelined for the upcoming match against Arsenal.
While Kompany’s frustration was understandable, the VAR decision was ultimately inconsequential. Ramsey’s subdued reaction, despite the foul by Mac Allister, likely dashed Burnley’s hopes of any recourse.
Harvey Elliott Makes the Difference
Klopp’s tactical prowess may not be fully attributed to the Elliott switch, as Alexander-Arnold was seemingly forced off due to injury. Additionally, Conor Bradley’s absence on compassionate leave and Gomez’s flu limited options, leading to the experimental placement of Jones at right back, a less common sight, with the substitution joining the midfield.
Despite initial setbacks, the bench once again proved decisive, particularly with Elliott showcasing his best form upon entering the match late. His impact was undeniable, contributing two crucial assists as Liverpool comfortably secured victory without reaching their full potential.
Moving forward, the challenge lies in maintaining consistency and delivering such quality from the beginning of matches. However, Klopp acknowledges the fortunate position of having Elliott as a valuable asset waiting in reserve.
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