Happy New Year, Sean Dyche! What a way to start 2018.
The big Estonian defender Ragnar Klavan turned out to be the knight in shining armor for the Reds, scoring a late game-winning goal to defeat Burnley on the road at Turf Moor.
The first half seemed like it was mainly Burnley providing the pressure and Liverpool just going through the motions. Without Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho, the offensive firepower looked dull and shots on goal were hard to come by.
Scott Arfield had the best chance for Burnley, settling a ball around the 18-yard box before narrowly hitting wide on a low shot.
It was the second half that really made this game what it was. In the 61st minute, Trent Alexander-Arnold found himself sprinting to the sidelines to capture a wayward cross-field pass. When he slowed down to take a hack at it, I’m sure everyone in the stadium and watching the game thought, ‘yeah, this ball is going straight into the stands.’
But with the whip and power of his right foot, paired with a slight deflection, the ball made its way to Sadio Mane who collected the ball effortlessly, turned and rifled a shot that slammed into the roof of the net. 1-0 Reds.
With the Reds up in a very tough and physical road game without two of their best players, the team became more relaxed and controlled possession, knowing they could expose Burnley when they came forward.
But Liverpool’s game plan took a complete 180-degree turn, when Sam Vokes’ near-post header was flicked on to a running Johann Berg Gudmundsson who simply guided the ball past Mignolet for an 87th minute equalizer. Cue the angry Jurgen face. 1-1 all.
But it wasn’t done yet. Emre Can collected the ball at the back and launched what would be Liverpool’s final attack. In the process of slicing and dicing Burnley’s defense, Can was fouled and a free kick was awarded.
Enter Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan, the Reds’ defenders known purely for their exciting style of defense. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put the ball into the box, Lovren won the header, and Klavan finished it in the 93rd minute to bail out Liverpool in a game they should’ve taken control of after the first goal. 2-1 Reds.
- Liverpool had the game, lost it and the took it back. Nonetheless, it’s a huge result as it puts them only 1 point behind second-place Chelsea in the title race.
- The lack of Mo Salah was evident. Liverpool struggled to create chances in the final third, and their goals from Mane and Klavan did have a heavy dose of fortune alongside. But as my father always says, “It doesn’t matter how they go in, as long as they go in.”
- Going off that, Liverpool proved they can win without some big time players being active. This is big because with the transfer window now open, the exit door for Coutinho could be as well.
- Burnley’s ‘keeper Nick Pope made some big time saves down the stretch, showing me that he’s a name to watch out for in the future.
- The white jerseys for Liverpool grow on me every time I see them. They look fresh, dope, hype, etc. I don’t know what you kids are saying these days. Anyway, those kits are off the chain.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Emre Can is a beast. The German made some big time tackles and forced the ball up the field, leading to the match-saving goal for Liverpool. Comfortable and confident on the ball, too.
3 points in a tough win. This is an awesome result. Seriously. Burnley is very good at home, and to take points on the road in a tight race for Champions League spots is vital.
12 matches unbeaten in the Prem, 16 over all competitions is pretty solid.
Also, did you see that big Klopp grin at the end of the match? Oh, man. That’s what we Reds fans dream to see after matches.
Thanks again, and chat me in the comments.