Liverpool kick started 2018 in dramatic fashion as a very late winner from the Estonian superstar Ragnar Klavan sealed a massive three points for the Reds on what was always going to be a tough test at Burnley. Sadio Mané had given us the lead early in the second half but Burnley demonstrated exactly why they have had such a good season by punching in an equaliser through Johann Berg Gudmundsson in the 87th minute. Jurgen Klopp’s men weren’t to be denied though as Emre Can won a free kick deep in stoppage time and the rest is now history. What did we learn though from this rain soaked encounter?
Oh Mané Mané
Doubters need doubt no more. Sadio Mané had bizarrely been a victim of some harsh criticism of late. He hasn’t been at his best but he’s remained a consistent threat and a crucial reason why his fellow attackers have more space to operate in.
His goal yesterday was one pulled out of the very top drawer. Mané was moving away from goal, on his weaker foot and in what were extremely greasy conditions. No problem for Mané though as he fired an unstoppable strike into the roof of the net.
With no Mo Salah, no Phil Coutinho and no Roberto Firmino, the pressure was on Mané to step up and he was unquestionably up to the task.
The Dejan Lovren/Ragnar Klavan partnership has been quietly purring along during this impressive run of form for the Reds. It has been surprising to see that it seems an awful lot of fans are not considering these two as options to play alongside Virgil van Dijk. They have been incredibly good of late and that is not an understatement.
The goal itself was of course the highlight of the Lov-Klav era. There was only going to be one winner when the late free kick was delivered into the Burnley box. Lovren had that look in his eyes where no other outcome seemed plausible. Klavan was equally determined diving in bravely at the back post to seal a victory that had seemingly been snatched from our grasp. The wild celebrations only heightened the sense of the occasion.
I am positive that their passion was matched by Reds celebrating the goal all around the world!
Rotation Paying Off
Jurgen Klopp made 7 changes to the side that beat Leicester on Saturday. Two were enforced with minor injuries to Salah and Coutinho but you feel Klopp would most likely have rotated regardless.
The manager has faith in his squad for good reason. Dom Solanke struggled at times but he will only improve in the long run with such experiences. Trent Alexander-Arnold just keeps on getting better and yesterday was one of his most polished all around displays yet.
And of course how great was it to see Adam Lallana back in the starting eleven?? His impact on the team is already evident. His contribution is so unique and multi faceted that we truly miss his presence when he’s not around. Klopp has eased him back in slowly and once again the approach seems to have paid off handsomely.
There weren’t too many negatives to focus on yesterday but it was hard to ignore that Joe Gomez once again went to sleep on the back post for the Burnley goal. It is somewhat understandable given he was filling in on the opposite to normal but I think I’m being a little generous. The same happened at West Ham and most recently against Arsenal, we just know he is capable of better.
These aren’t mistakes in the traditional sense but they are every bit as costly. Gomez is a brilliant young talent but he needs to somehow cut these lapses out of his game.
A huge statement win to start 2018 for the Reds. That Brendan Rodgers instilled character getting stronger by the day. I hope the rest of the year carries on the way the first day did, if so it will be a special year indeed.