Talking Points: Burnley 1, Liverpool 2

Ragnar Klavan’s last-gasp winner ensured Liverpool started off 2018 with a win as they edged a hard-fought encounter with Burnley at Turf Moor. Johann Gudmundsson seemed to have snatched a point for the home side when his 87th-minute header levelled the score after Sadio Mane’s stunning opener, but Klavan stepped up and won his team the game at the death.

Liverpool finally find a late winner and are proving bottle…

We are only a day in 2018 and it has already gifted Liverpool fans with one of the best things in football, a last-minute winner. One the day that photos of new signing Virgil Van Dijk in a Liverpool shirt were doing the rounds on social media, it was two other centre-backs who stole the show as Dejan Lovren and Klavan combined to grab all three points for their side. Seriously, when was the last time the Reds scored a late goal to win a match? Mane at Everton last season? There certainly haven’t been many, so all the more reason to celebrate. The talent show that is ‘Who wants to be Van Dijk’s centre-back partner?’ is hotting up, and arguably the pre-concieved number one contender Joel Matip is now at the back of the line. Another thing that Klavan’s goal showed is that Liverpool are finally starting to show some bottle – highlighted by Saturday’s comeback win and now today’s result. It looked like the Reds were going to throw away more points from a winning position, but they fought until the end and got their reward. A very pleasing sight.

Mane rediscovers the scoring touch and some form…

Mane’s performance on Saturday showed he was at a crossroads in terms of form, and fortunately, he took the path of getting back into the goals against Burnley with a brilliant strike. He controlled the ball with his right, swivelled, and then rocketed a shot into the top-left corner which left Tom Pope hopeless and gave the Reds the important breakthrough. Mane was always going to be the player that Liverpool supporters looked towards to provide the magic given the absences of Mo Salah and Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino being on the bench. Mane duly provided, and the spirit he has shown to get himself out of his slump in form has been admirable. While he might be disappointed that Salah has stolen some of his limelight from last season, the Senegalese man is a team player and the round of applause he received from his teammates in the dressing room after the game for his goal will boost his confidence up even higher. Mane is back.

Solanke not yet ready to be back up striker…

Dom Solanke has certainly been unlucky to not yet have scored his first Liverpool goal, being denied by a combination of great saves, the woodworm, controversial referee decisions, but also, his poor finishing. It can’t be ignored. Solanke seems to be very good at holding the ball up and often has some nice touches, but he is simply not a goal scorer – not yet anyway. The Englishman had a great chance to open the scoring in the first half against Burnley, but his composure and finishing let him down. Liverpool’s attack is blessed with quality but a back up to Roberto Firmino still remains an issue. Solanke may well be able to fill this role in a couple seasons time, but right now Divock Origi would be a much better option. A loan move like the one Tammy Abraham currently has at Swansea would do Solanke the world of good.

Klopp handles festive period and rotation excellently…

The German received plenty of criticism when his decision to only make one change to his team for resulted in a 2-2 draw at Sunderland last season, thus Klopp made sure he didn’t make the same mistakes as he made seven changes to his team that beat Leicester 48 hours ago. Not helped by small injuries to star men Salah and Coutinho, Klopp started everyone who was on the bench for Saturday’s win. So many changes would have always resulted in criticism if Liverpool failed to win, but the fresh legs of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were crucial in the Reds getting the win and hence justifying their manager’s decision to rotate. The win caps off a very successful Christmas period for Liverpool in which a draw at Arsenal has been followed up with wins against Swansea, Leicester and now Burnley. Klopp’s team are now on their longest unbeaten run in both the League and all competitions since his reign began, and head into Friday’s FA Cup fixture against Everton on top of the world. Up the mighty Reds!

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