Unsung hero in Burnley win shows how Jurgen Klopp system continues to evolve
Liverpool verdict - Unsung hero in Burnley win shows how Jurgen Klopp system continues to evolve
Paul Gorst gives his verdict after Liverpool beat Burnley 3-0, Fabinho is the star of the system and Reds show professional side
By Paul Gorst Liverpool FC correspondent 1 SEP 2019
There will be more complete Liverpool performances to drool over between now and the season's end - but few will be as professional as this one.
The European champions sailed off into the international break with their 100 per cent record cleanly intact as a spirited display saw off the cumbersome threat of Burnley at Turf Moor.
Thirteen successive victories now becomes a club record as a performance dipped in maturity was enough to escape with maximum points.
This was never going to be one for the purists. It rarely - if ever - is, here, and the hosts showed their hand early on, repeatedly sending long balls over the top for the physical duo of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood to try and exploit.
The home side's gameplan to hit it long as fast as possible saw them routinely cough up possession.
Burnley's attacking players were flagged offside time and again as the Reds held firm.
Such an approach merely played into the hands of Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk, who barely broke sweat for the first 45 minutes.
What the Clarets lack in complexity they make up for in effort, however, and Adrian was called into action early on after Wood had escaped the attention of Van Dijk.
There was no real storm to ride for the visitors, but they needed to stamp their mark on the game before being allowed the chance to play their sweeping football.
Real chances were at a premium in the first period as both teams toiled to little avail either end.
Salah went close for the Reds in strange circumstances when a sliding Pope knocked the ball against the Egyptian, whose toe had just missed with connecting with Jordan Henderson's lofted through ball.
With plenty of graft backed up with little craft, it was perhaps inevitable that the visitors would have to find their lead through fortuitous circumstances.
It was left to Trent Alexander-Arnold to do the damage as his deep cross evaded everyone, including goalkeeper Nick Pope, to drop into the back of the net.
Replays suggested a deflection had came via Wood who was harshly given the own goal.
If the opener was rather fortunate, the second was anything but.
Ben Mee's poor mistake gifted possession to the peerless Roberto Firmino who waited, waited and waited some more before delicately laying it into the path of the onrushing Sadio Mane.
The Senegal star didn't need to take a touch as he caressed it first time into the corner in the most calm and clinical of fashions.
Somehow, without ever getting out of second gear, Liverpool found themselves two goals up and the travelling Kop went and dusted off some of their modern classics as they celebrated the lead that placed them back at the summit.
Liverpool were guilty of being too elaborate at times in the second half in their search for the third.
Salah should have squared it to Firmino before the Brazilian's acrobatics were a tad unnecessary moments later from Jordan Henderson's cross.
A minor concern for Jurgen Klopp will have been the sight of captain Henderson being forced off after a clash with Aaron Lennon.
The Reds skipper was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. But while one Liverpool midfielder's game was ended prematurely, it was another who rose to the occasion on this late summer's night in the heart of Lancashire.
He is unlikely to take all the plaudits but evenings such as this lay bare the importance of Fabinho to this Liverpool system.
The Brazilian international stood up to the task of shackling Burnley's boisterous midfield and fought fire with fire with plenty of meaty challenges of his own.
The former Monaco star is much more than an engine room scuffler, but it is heartening to know he has the ability to roll those sleeves up and dig in when it is called for.
The elusive third eventually arrived in clinical fashion when Firmino strode onto Salah's pass to dispatch from the edge of the box and wrap up the points.
The sight of the flamboyant Brazilian dancing his way through the celebrations irked a home crowd who seemingly care little for that kind of fancy.
It was a sight to behold for the visitors however as they toasted their return to the top.
Liverpool, top of the league, roared the Reds fans as they took maximum enjoyment from a venue that has traditionally been a battleground for Klopp and his players.
Ultimately, if the big war is to be a victorious one in May next year, it is these battles of attrition that will prove to be so important.
With maximum points from the first four games, Klopp will now wave his players off for international with his feet up and - in all likelihood - his fingers crossed.
So far, so good. Just the 34 left to negotiate.
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