Missed op­por­tu­ni­ties and de­fen­sive frail­ties doom ef­fort as Klopp strug­gles to find pos­i­tives

The National - News - - SPORT - RICHARD JOLLY

There was an il­log­i­cal equal­ity to the score­line. Liverpool had 35 shots, courtesy of nine dif­fer­ent play­ers. Burn­ley had five, and a mere 28 per cent of pos­ses­sion.

The points were nev­er­the­less shared. Jur­gen Klopp strug­gled to rec­on­cile the re­al­ity of it with the fig­ures and the emo­tions one of the more de­cep­tive draws pro­duced.

“It feels strange, it feels wrong, but it is a fact we drew,” the Liverpool man­ager said. “I still don’t feel any pos­i­tiv­ity in this mo­ment.”

A week has pro­duced more neg­a­tives. If Liverpool can dis­miss their 5-0 thrash­ing at Manch­ester City as an aber­ra­tion, this bore more sim­i­lar­i­ties to Wed­nes­day’s draw with Sevilla. Once again, they con­ceded the first goal in care­less fashion, dom­i­nated, came to rue their waste­ful­ness in front of goal and might have sieved a late de­cider.

For Luis Muriel’s in­jury-time miss, read Ben Mee’s twin head­ers, one cleared off the line by Joel Matip, the other saved su­perbly by Si­mon Mig­no­let.

“That would have been typ­i­cal for us if they had scored,” Klopp said.

Yet the score­line felt typ­i­cal of the new Burn­ley. Fa­mously bad trav­ellers last sea­son, they have ac­quired a re­silience. They had al­ready won at Chelsea and drawn at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur. Un­der­dogs could nev­er­the­less pride them­selves on the re­silience of un­her­alded play­ers. Goal­keeper Nick Pope, mak­ing his first Premier League start, did su­perbly to touch Do­minic Solanke’s late vol­ley on to the bar.

“When the mo­ment of truth came, he de­liv­ered two ex­cel­lent saves,” said his man­ager, Sean Dy­che. Klopp ar­gued that Mee had fouled Mo­hamed Salah in the penalty box sec­onds ear­lier.

Yet such was Liverpool’s profli­gacy that com­plaints should be di­rected within their own ranks. Daniel Stur­ridge had seven at­tempts. Philippe Coutinho had six, none even find­ing the tar­get.

There was ev­i­dence of artistry and com­mit­ment alike from the Brazil­ian Barcelona wanted as he be­gan for the first time this sea­son. A long-range spe­cial­ist let fly from dis­tance time and again, but with­out find­ing the top cor­ner in trade­mark, spec­tac­u­lar fashion.

Their sole goal came from Salah. If this was a test of how Liverpool would cope with­out the sus­pended Sa­dio Mane, it pro­duced con­tra­dic­tory re­sults.

Salah was signed to re­duce the re­liance on the Sene­galese. His fourth goal in his past four games at An­field seemed a clas­sic Klopp strike: an in­ci­sive for­ward pass, courtesy of Emre Can, was met by a winger mak­ing a di­ag­o­nal burst into the box. But since Mane joined, Liverpool have won 66 per cent of games with him in the start­ing side and just 40 with­out.

Sim­i­larly, Liverpool could cite the chances as proof of strength in depth af­ter Klopp made seven changes.

The re­sult lent it­self to other con­clu­sions. If his de­ci­sions did not al­ways pay off, Dy­che seems in a golden run of form. For the sec­ond suc­ces­sive game, a man he brought into the side scored.

He re­called Scott Ar­field and the mid­fielder struck. It was a fine goal from Burn­ley’s per­spec­tive, but an aw­ful one from Liverpool’s. Trent Alexan­der-Arnold lost a header to the diminu­tive Rob­bie Brady. Both cen­tre-backs went to chal­lenge Chris Wood, and nei­ther got the ball, al­low­ing it to reach Ar­field.

Klopp looked fu­ri­ous. “We could have de­fended much bet­ter,” he said. “I am not in a per­fect mood.”


Jur­gen Klopp says Liverpool’s re­sult against Burn­ley ‘feels strange, it feels wrong’, as their week of neg­a­tives con­tin­ued

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