Gengen-depressing Reds embarrassed at Turf Moor
Liverpool came into the match as heavy and deserved favourites, but the Clarets didn’t get the memo. Two wonderful strikes from Sam Vokes and Andre Gray was enough to see off the toothless Reds on a day to forget for Liverpool.
Simon Mignolet – 5: The Belgian had almost nothing to do for the entire game. The two goals that were scored were absolutely cracking finishes that left him little chance of making a save. With Burnley becoming more a more reserved, Mignolet’s involvement diminished.
Nathaniel Clyne – 3: Another sub-par performance from Clyne in an unusually shaky start to the season for the man who used to be Liverpool’s most consistent player. A dreadful pass gifted Burnley the lead after 90 seconds and from then on failed to improve. He was also very wasteful with the ball in attack, you can’t help but wonder what the backlash would’ve been like if Moreno had this performance.
Ragnar Klavan – 3: A nightmare second game for the Estonian after a brilliant first outing at Arsenal. Gray’s pace panicked the experienced centre-back as he was completely unable to deal with it. This nervousness crept into his game more and more as the match progressed and even his passing became rushed and unintelligent. Worrying performance, but can still improve and readjust his game to suit the Premier League; may still lose his place to Joel Matip.
Dejan Lovren – 4: Arguably the best of the very worst at the back. Lovren struggled nearly as much as Klavan did with Andre Gray and to a lesser extent Sam Vokes. Every time the Clarets countered it looked as though they would score, with the centre-back pairing appearing completely bewildered in their movements. Must improve as he is Liverpool’s only defender to have completed a full preseason, so there should be no excuses.
James Milner – 4: As usual Milner worked hard and ran well for the team, but he was completely ineffective at left-back in defence and going forward. His lack of pace was regularly exposed as Burnley attacked on the counter and every time he got the ball near the Burnley box they were easily able to read him. His crossing was erratic and often he had to cut inside onto his stronger foot, to no avail. A left footed player is needed at left-back, leaving Alberto Moreno as the only option.
Jordan Henderson- 2: Some will say that this rating is a bit harsh but unfortunately Henderson was truly awful at Turf Moor. In a squad that is almost entirely void of a natural leader, this was an uninspiring display from the captain. His poor showing wasn’t entirely his fault as holding-midfielder is obviously not his position, but this can’t excuse giving the ball away and consistently sloppy passes. Must improve if he wants to stay at Liverpool in the long-term.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 3: Much like the first-half against Arsenal, Wijnaldum completely failed to impose himself on the game. Whilst not doing much wrong, you often forgot that he was on the field at times. As he displayed for Newcastle last year, he is an immensely talented player but is completely ineffectual in away games. Another who must improve but it is clear that playing as a Klopp-style central midfielder is not his best role at the moment.
Adam Lallana – 5 (Man of the Match): It could be argued that no one in Red played well enough to deserve a Man of the Match rating, but Lallana looked the most likely to score as he produced some nice turns and passes around the Burnely box. His intellegent movement and link-up play was evident throughout although his end product was just as bad as everyone else’s. Subbed off towards the end of the game after fading in the second-half.
Philippe Coutinho – 5: Some would argue that Coutinho was one of the worst and most wasteful players on the pitch, but it can’t be denied that he tried his best to get Liverpool back into the game like last week. Getting into good positions regularly, you can’t help but wonder what the reception from the fans and the response from the players would’ve been if one of his shots went into the top corner. Far from his best performance, finding consistency has to be his goal this season.
Roberto Firmino – 4: Another poor display from the Brazilian who will be looking to bounce back immediately. Wasteful in possession despite some decent strikes, his lack of pace was exploited by a stubborn Burnely defence. One to forget for the talented midfielder, Liverpool fans and management will be hoping he gets back to his best sooner rather than later.
Daniel Sturridge – 5: Bizarrely used in a wide position, the natural striker struggled to get touches inside the box. Questions will be raised over whether he was fit and ready to start, but his teammates did little to reduce his work load and help him into the game. Not a good game for him, but hardly his fault. Subbed off for Origi in the second half, many will argue Origi should’ve started to ease his reintroduction to the team.
Divock Origi – 5: Didn’t make much of an impact but it was clear by the positions he was getting into that this was the type of game and opposition that better suited a striker like Origi.
Alberto Moreno – 5: Another player who arguably should’ve started, didn’t have much time on the pitch, but his final ball was as erratic as ever.
Marko Grujic -5: Great to see the big Serbian debuting in the Premier League and had a chance to score with his first touch of the ball. A starting option for Klopp as the current midfield trio have struggled thus far this season.
Jurgen Klopp – 3: Probably Klopp’s worst game for Liverpool, a brilliant manager who often gets the best out of what he’s given, his team selection and tactics must be questioned after that performance. Despite many calling for Moreno’s head after his Arsenal performance, the defence couldn’t deal with the pace of Burnley’s counter attacks. The same midfield trio who struggled at Arsenal played at Turf Moor and were a big part of the humbling loss, particularly Henderson who is not a holding midfielder. Upfront Sturridge was played in a wide-role whilst the likes of Matip, Can and Origi didn’t start despite a very compelling case being made for their introductions. A 4-2-3-1 would’ve been a better formation both attacking and defending in that game, it was another example of how to defeat a Klopp team, let them keep possession, keep men behind the ball and when they make a mistake and turn over possession, counter with pace and numbers.
Poor Defence… Again
Liverpool’s defence looked shaky at best at Arsenal, against Burnley it was completely exposed. Not many would’ve predicted a 2-0 win for the Clarets, but most should’ve been aware of the quality of Vokes and Gray; it would appear that Liverpool were outside of this majority.
1st Goal – Clyne gifts Burnley possession, centre-backs are split as no one is tight on Vokes.
2nd Goal – Ball is lost by Sturridge at Burnley’s end of the pitch, they immediately break. Midfielders are ineffective at stifling the counter. Klavan misses a tackle whilst Milner is unable to track back in time to cover Gray. Clyne also struggles to remain goal-side of his man.
These two goals are similar in nature to goals scored against Liverpool in the past, including the Arsenal game. Teams are beginning to figure out that the Reds are highly susceptible on the counter and their defence is frail under pressure. The defence can’t be entirely blamed for this as on both occasions the ball was lost by a single player which meant that they were out of position and scrambling to cover their man. However the fact that this has happened many times over with different defensive combinations suggests a problem with the system rather than the players.
Poor in Attack too…
While the defence was giving a repeat performance from Arsenal, the attacking players showed little of the spark and danger that they displayed against Arsenal. The loss of Sadio Mane was a tough pill to swallow, but the return of Sturrdige should’ve been a big boost. Too often they were forced to take ambitious long shots because Burnley parked themselves behind the ball and defended stubbornly. The likes of Milner and Clyne were unable to provide good service, whilst the midfield were hardly able to string a couple of passes together. This put immense pressure on the front-three and they were unable to deliver.
Changes need to be made
It is clear that after the first two games, Liverpool are not playing nearly as well as the fans would’ve hoped and certain changes need to be made. In defence, the introduction of Joel Matip needs to be made sooner rather than later, whilst Mamadou Sakho should also be considered despite his reported falling out with Klopp. At left-back the problem is a bit more complex, most fans will be hoping for a new, top-quality left-back to be signed before deadline day, but realistically I think Klopp will still with what he’s got. Moreno should be favoured ahead of Milner tho, if only because the display against Burnley showed that having a left-footer on the left side. Having said that, another solution could be to switch Clyne to the left and Milner on the right, Clyne rarely gets forward anyway so we wouldn’t be losing out on his service, while Milner’s excellent crossing ability could be better utilised. In midfield Emre Can needs to be introduced for Wijnaldum and Henderson pushed forward into his more familar box-to-box role, while Can holds. Another option is to play both Can and Grujic for Wijnaldum and Henderson, Grujic has the right physical attributes for the Premier League and after an excellent preseason will only improve with more game tie. The return of Mane will be a massive boost for the team and Origi should be considered for a starting role after an excellent second half to the 2015/16 season. The decision making from players and staff alike was poor, but this must and will change in the near future.
Time for Calm
Whilst much of this review has focused on Liverpool’s faults, it is important to remember that it is only the second game and there were a number of key absentees missing from the squad. Klopp needs more time to mold his current batch of players and assess those which he can improve and those he can’t. Make no mistake, if Klopp believes a player can’t or won’t improve he will not hesitate to replace them, in the mean time, let them make some mistakes, it’s the only way to learn and improve. The one aspect that does concern me is the fact that clubs are already figuring Klopp out, as stated above, let them have possesion, keep men behind the ball and when a mistake is made break with pace and numbers. This tactic was highlighted by the fact that Burnely won with only 19.4% possession, the lowest in recorded history. However it is important to remember that despite his undoubted brilliance, Klopp needs more time to adjust to the Premier League, and I am sure he will tweak his tactics and forge a more effective ‘Plan-B’ for games when the opposition is sitting back.
Looking forward to seeing the Mighty Reds bounce back. YNWA.
Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 23/08/2016.