Jurgen Klopp's shrewd signings key as Reds prove they have all the answers

By James Pearce
23:21, 5 DEC 2018

Jurgen Klopp kept his emotions in check this time – but he will have been bubbling inside.

Make no mistake, this was a gargantuan win for Liverpool. They showcased their powers of recovery en route to making history on a filthy night in Lancashire.

With an hour gone in a Turf Moor monsoon, the Reds' Premier League title dream looked in serious danger of being washed away. They trailed to Jack Cork's controversial opener and had been roughed up by lowly Burnley.
A debate would have raged about Klopp's selection gamble and a five-point gap to Manchester City would have felt like a chasm.

But rather than meekly accept their fate, Liverpool dug deep and rallied. An outstanding second-half display turned a potential wake into another booming party on the back of Sunday's dramatic Merseyside derby triumph.
Can they do it on a cold, wet Wednesday night in Burnley? After an uncertain start, the answer was emphatic.

James Milner equalised before substitute Roberto Firmino fired them in front and Xherdan Shaqiri wrapped up the points late on. Momentum continues to grow.
Delight was only tempered by the sickening sight of Joe Gomez being led away on a stretcher with an ankle injury.

What this team have achieved over the opening 15 matches of the league season is unprecedented in the club's 126-year history. Not even icons like Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan or Kenny Dalglish oversaw this kind of flying start with 39 points out of a possible 45.
It's been overlooked to a degree because City still lead the way but Liverpool are bang in this race. They aren't going anywhere.
In fact win at Bournemouth on Saturday lunchtime and Klopp's side will hit the summit, at least for a few hours.

There is so much to admire about what Klopp has created and it comes down to shrewd recruitment. Naby Keita marked his first Premier League start for three months by delivering his most impressive performance for the Reds.
Here was the dynamism and creativity Liverpool paid £52million for as the Guinea international drove them forward.
Behind him Virgil van Dijk was an absolute colossus once again, while Alisson Becker was a commanding presence between the posts and pulled off another world-class save. That is one rock-solid and exciting spine.

It's a balancing act for Klopp as he wrestles with such a gruelling schedule and he certainly flirted with disaster by making seven changes.
Alisson, Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Xherdan Shaqiri were the only survivors from the side which started against Everton.
It was the first time since May 2017 that the Reds had gone into a league clash without Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Firmino.

Struggling Burnley had won just twice in the league all season and had leaked 17 goals in their previous six matches.
However, there was no gulf in class during a horribly scrappy and disjointed opening 45 minutes. It was exactly how the Clarets wanted it.
The hosts had clearly been told to ruffle a few feathers and their physicality knocked the Reds out of their stride.
Divock Origi was on the receiving end early on and then Robbie Brady ploughed recklessly through Gomez.
Their show of aggression crossed the line and referee Stuart Attwell failed miserably in his duty to protect Klopp's players.

Liverpool didn't help themselves during a first half when they were desperately sloppy in possession. Joel Matip summed up their lethargy when he knocked the ball straight out of play when under no pressure.
As well as the major overhaul in personnel, Klopp switched to a 4-4-2 formation with Milner on the left and Shaqiri on the right with Daniel Sturridge partnering Origi.
But it just didn't function before the interval. The front two were largely starved of service.

Burnley looked the more likely to make the breakthrough. Ashley Barnes played in Chris Wood but he was slow to get the shot away and Matip got across and made the tackle.
When Milner did deliver invitingly towards the far post, Sturridge's control let him down.

Midway through the first half Liverpool were forced into a reshuffle after Gomez was led away on a stretcher.
The young England international was racing down the right when Ben Mee came across to make the challenge. The Clarets skipper played the ball but also took Gomez out and he was left writhing in pain.
After receiving treatment off the pitch it was clear he couldn't continue and Trent Alexander-Arnold replaced him.

Klopp's mood wasn't helped when Phil Bardsley got away with leaving Alberto Moreno in a heap soon after as Attwell waved play on.

Quality remained conspicuous by its absence. Van Dijk soared highest to meet Milner's corner but powered a header straight at Joe Hart.
Liverpool started the second half with greater purpose but twice they were denied by the heroics of Hart.
Sturridge's sweetly struck left footer was tipped behind after he had latched on to Origi's flick.

Then the classy Keita took centre stage. He burst away from Ashley Westwood and unleashed a 25-yard thunderbolt which Hart somehow clawed on to the post.
Having been in the ascendancy, the Reds were rocked by the Clarets going in front in controversial circumstances on 54 minutes.
Brady's corner was nodded goalwards by James Tarkowski, Alisson parried and then challenged for the loose ball with Barnes. The Brazil No 1 appeared to have two hands on it and there were suspicions of offside, but it squirmed loose and Cork netted from close range.
Liverpool's protests were in vain and to their credit they channelled their frustration in the best possible way.

They trailed for only eight minutes. It was a classy move with Shaqiri intelligently switching play to Moreno, who then linked up with Keita and Origi. Milner still had plenty to do from the edge of the D but he drilled low into the bottom corner.
Klopp sensed that opportunity knocked and called for the cavalry. Big guns Salah and Firmino replaced Moreno and Origi with Milner shifted to left-back.
Liverpool were in control and swiftly struck again. Alexander-Arnold picked out Van Dijk at the far post and the big Dutchman expertly hooked it back across goal to ensure that Firmino's first touch was a tap-in.

The Reds should have killed Burnley off on the counter. Keita and Salah were both thwarted by Hart before Keita saw another effort cleared off the line by Bardsley.

Stoppage time belonged to the absolute brilliance of Alisson. He turned Mee's header on to the woodwork and then produced the quick throw which helped deliver the final blow.
The Clarets were exposed with Sturridge and Salah combining to tee up Shaqiri, who coolly tucked it away.
Alisson raced off his line and delivered a knee slide close to the centre circle. The travelling Kop erupted.

Questions keep getting asked of this Liverpool team and they keep coming up with the answers.


Liverpool: Alisson, Gomez (Alexander-Arnold 23), Van Dijk, Matip, Moreno (Salah 65), Henderson, Milner, Keita, Shaqiri, Sturridge, Origi (Firmino 65).
Not used: Mignolet, Fabinho, Lallana, Camacho.

Burnley: Hart, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Gudmundsson, Cork, Westwood, Brady (Lennon 70), Barnes (Vydra 83), Wood (Vokes 70).
Not used: Heaton, Lowton, Hendrick, Long.

Referee: Stuart Attwell
Attendance: 21,741 
Goals: Cork 54, Milner 62, Firmino 69, Shaqiri 90+1.
Bookings: Vydra.
Man of the match: Naby Keita. A big step forward for the dynamic Guinea midfielder.

Copyright - The Liverpool Echo

Liverpool player ratings vs Burnley - Naby Keita impresses as Reds come back to win
Liverpool come from behind to beat Burnley at Turf Moor - and this is how Ian Doyle saw it

By Ian Doyle Liverpool reporter
21:46, 5 DEC 2018

Alisson Becker 7
Watched shots from Westwood, Wood and Bardsley fly off target first half. Not happy with the referee for the opener – was it kicked out of his hands? - but saved well from Mee in injury time and then began the move for the third.

Joe Gomez 7
Made a couple of good covering challenges from right-back until his evening ended prematurely on a stretcher after a strong challenge by Mee.

Virgil van Dijk 7
Curiously ponderous for much of the first half and sent a good header from a corner straight at Hart. But another, this time intended, assist created the second brilliantly for Firmino.

Joel Matip 7
Worryingly limbsome and looked a little slow first half, but did reasonably well enough. Grew into the match up against the Burnley lumps.

Alberto Moreno 6
Sent his first pass to a Burnley player but settled down before the break. One or two iffy moments but okay before being replaced.

Xherdan Shaqiri 7
Ostensibly on the right but even when moving inside wasn't able to influence the game much in the first half. Became much more involved second half and scored the clinching third.

Jordan Henderson 6
One or two nice touches but in a very deep midfield role was in danger of being overrun first half. Not his best night, but kept going. Slipped on his backside to much home fan hilarity.

Naby Keita 8
Held his own in the hustle and bustle of the central midfield, and came into his own going forward after the break when his attacking impetus sparked the Reds into life. Drew a brilliant save from Hart.

James Milner 8
Began on the left but popped up on the right and in central positions. Tried to make things happen, scored a fine goal and was rewarded by being moved to left-back.

Divock Origi 6
A first start since May 2017 after his derby heroics, rustiness was evident for the most part. But improved after the break and got an assist before being subbed.

Daniel Sturridge 6
More threat than end product in the first half, but drew a good save from Hart shortly after the break. Played his part in the third.


Trent Alexander-Arnold (for Gomez 23) 7
Steady on his early introduction. Became a fine outlet in the second half and his delivery created the second.

Roberto Firmino (for Moreno 65) 7
Scored with his first touch.

Mohamed Salah (for Origi 65) 7
Drew two decent stops from Hart and set up Shaqiri for the third.

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