Following a brilliant performance at home against Arsenal, Liverpool were looking to build more positive momentum at home against Burnley. Any other top six side would have looked forward to a home fixture against Burnley however Liverpool fans had very little faith in their team beating a bottom-half side.
Many fans and pundits expected Burnley to cause Liverpool problems here, even though they went into the game with a league-worst away record, having not won a single away game all season. It seemed like destiny that Burnley were at the home of the Premier League’s “Robin Hood”.
It was a little chilly at Anfield following kickoff as the Liverpool faithful anticipated the worst from their team on a afternoon where they should expect to see the best. Just 7 minutes in, the worst came knocking. After a slow start from Liverpool in the opening minutes, Burnley caught Liverpool sleeping.
Right-back Matthew Lowton found himself in acres of space just inside the Liverpool half. The Englishman sent a superb low driven ball across the box, beyond all Liverpool players and into the path of Ashley Barnes. The striker lunged and slid to reach the ball with his right foot getting enough pace on the ball to beat Simon Mignolet. It was a great start for Burnley and one that Liverpool fans wished they didn’t know was coming.
Liverpool’s last win against a team in the bottom half was on December 14th, and that streak was looking to continue. For the next 40 minutes of the match there were two half-chances from either side. The life in the game was being taken out by the focus and compactness that Burnley were able to exhibit in defence. Liverpool’s counter-attack did not seem to have any conviction and the spark just could not be found.
However, on the stroke of half time Liverpool were able to break through. Starting with some pretty passing down the left side involving Milner, Lallana and Coutinho, the Brazilian found Divock Origi in a wide area. Credit to the Big Belgian as he was able to create some space around George Boyd and send in a ball towards Wijnaldum. The Dutchman’s first effort was blocked yet he stuck with the ball, kept his composure and was able to fire it past Burnley ‘keeper Tom Heaton. Anfield was back buzzing again as the hosts were able to get an equalizer going into the second half.
After the second half had kicked off, Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp had not seen the reaction he wanted. The first substitution he made was to put faith in youngster Ben Woodburn, who replaced Phillipe Coutinho in just the 60th minute. Before the fans had a chance to react to the substitution, Divock Origi found Emre Can who dazzled Anfield. The German midfielder who had been terrible up to that point, hit a low but powerful strike that curled beyond Heaton and nestled right into the bottom corner. It was back to celebrating for the fans as Liverpool had made the comeback.
In the thirty minutes left to play, Liverpool had to see out a one goal lead against a bottom half team. In just the 63rd minute, a set piece was bounced around in the area and Barnes seemed to have his second of the match served on a plate but a crucial block from Klavan sent the chance away.
The last scare for Liverpool came in the 92nd minute as another set piece was delivered to the back post and it was the provider of the first Matthew Lowton who’s off balance volley from ten yards out went just over the crossbar.
Liverpool were just about able to see the game out, in a tough and scrappy match with some wonderful pieces of play. A win to truly boost club morale and send Liverpool in the right direction heading into the rest of the season. They will now turn their attention to next weekend, and their visit to Manchester City, a crucial match in the fight for a Champions League spot for both teams. As for Burnley, they will look to find that first away victory next weekend at Sunderland. The Black Cats sit bottom of the league giving Burnley their best chance all season.
Written by Mohammed Najarali, you can follow Mohammed on Twitter @MJ_NAJ
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