Talking Points: Burnley 1 Liverpool 3

A heavily-rotated Liverpool side came from behind to claim a hard-fought victory over Burnley at Turf Moor on Wednesday night. Jack Cork gave the hosts the lead before goals from James Milner, Roberto Firmino and Xherdan Shaqiri completed the turnaround.

Rotations lead to predictably jaded start…

While there may have been some concerns over the amount of changes J├╝rgen Klopp made to the team that started in the win over Everton – seven to be exact – rotation was always going to have to happen sooner or later given Liverpool’s hectic Christmas schedule, and considering the upcoming matches the fixture against Burnley was the sensible occasion. Joel Matip was shaky early on with some misplaced passes, while Alberto Moreno actually did quite well going forwards. Jordan Henderson struggled to assert his aurthority but grew into the game, but it was his midfield partners of Milner and Naby Keita who really shone. Upfront, Sunday’s hero Divock Origi was partnered with Daniel Sturridge. The Belgain offered a lot more than Sturridge before the break and set up Milner for the Reds’ equaliser. Origi was replaced on the hour and after that Sturridge, to his credit, really started to dictate proceedings from a deeper position. As indicated by the likes of Matip and Henderson, the visitors didn’t get off to a fantastic start and seemed slightly overrawed by Burnley’s physicality. But to the Reds’ credit, they battled back and drew the match level, before the superstars from the bench grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.

Klopp’s substitutions win the day again…

Substitutions have probably been the biggest area of concern for Liverpool supporters with Klopp’s management. Either he waits too long to make them, takes off the wrong players or brings on the wrong ones. But two games in a row now, the manager’s changes led to goals and seen the Reds take all three points. It was quite a bonus for Klopp that Milner drew Liverpool level before he could even introduce Firmino and Mo Salah to the game, and once the double change was made, Sean Dyche’s men succumbed to their opponents quality. It was Trent Alexander-Arnold to Virgil Van Dijk to Origi at the weekend, and this time the same combination occurred but with Firmino as the finisher – his first touch of the match and a much needed goal for the Brazilian. Salah’s pace really started to stretch the Burnley defence and gave the likes of Firmino, Sturridge, Shaqiri and Keita the room to work in. Alisson, who was once again superb, utilised another quick throw which led to Mo Salah being put in down the right. The Egyptian squared for Shaqiri to seal the game and highlight the difference that Salah and Firmino made off the bench.

Keita shows all the qualities he has to offer…

Liverpool fans have had to wait patiently for it, but they finally got to see Naby Keita start a game of football once again, and boy did the midfielder take his opportunity. Keita was simply brilliant, making penetrative forward runs, playing direct incisive passes and really helping to control the midfield battle. He linked up well with many of Liverpool’s attackers, and will be left wondering how on Earth he didn’t grab himself a goal from one of his five chances – three of which happened in the space of one attack. What Keita brings is something that the rest of the Reds’ midfielders can’t, or at least not to the level that Keita does, and the Guinean’s ability on the ball will always come in handy when playing sides that sit deep. The next step for fans is seeing Fabinho and Keita start in the same midfield, something that we could, and argubly should, get to see against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Reds refusing to let psychological battle with City deter them…

Of course it all comes down to numbers in a table, but the psychological battle going on at the minute between Liverpool and Manchester City players will play an important role in the title race. One way to gain an advantage is playing, and winning, before your rival – something that City have been able to do in the last two games. But on both occasions Liverpool have answered the call, even with fixtures like a midweek trip to Burnley with a rotated squad. The mental pressure is, and will continue to work both ways. Liverpool will wonder when or if City will ever drop points, but at the same time City will be in shock that despite argubly being the best side in Premier League, their lead at the top of the table is still only two points. With Pep Guardiola’s team facing a trip to Chelsea at the weekend, and with Liverpool playing first, Klopp’s players can start the mind games all over again.

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