Klopp left be­mused as Liverpool fire blanks again

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Chris Bas­combe at An­field

The ques­tion in the sum­mer was how would Liverpool cope with­out Philippe Coutinho. It has evolved into how they thrive with­out Sa­dio Mane.

An­other frus­trat­ing home draw demon­strated just how much the sus­pended Sene­galese’s loss is felt.

Coutinho was back af­ter a pre-sea­son of fric­tion, search­ing for form as much as pos­ses­sion in a deep mid­field role, but the con­se­quences of Mane’s three­game ban have al­ready im­pacted on Jur­gen Klopp’s side. The ro­ta­tion sys­tem the man­ager be­lieves es­sen­tial to suc­cess was sent spin­ning.

Klopp made seven changes to the side that faced Sevilla in the Cham­pi­ons League. Mass al­ter­ations might be nec­es­sary for fresh legs, but they can also be un­der­min­ing. Play­ers are seek­ing an un­der­stand­ing as much as rhythm and sharp­ness to their game.

Now Liverpool are al­ready five points be­hind Manch­ester City, a week which be­gan with de­fen­sive toils end­ing with a rare blunt at­tack­ing dis­play.

Burn­ley’s stand-in goal­keeper Nick Pope with­stood the pinches of pres­sure im­pres­sively. The home side had 35 at­tempts on his goal but the for­ward surge was never in­ces­sant.

Aside from the one time Pope was beaten for Mo­hamed Salah’s equaliser, the most trou­ble the goal­keeper faced was a cau­tion from ref­eree Roger East for time-wast­ing. It could have been even bet­ter for Burn­ley. Scott Ar­field put Sean Dy­che’s side ahead in the first half and, de­spite Salah’s im­me­di­ate re­sponse, Joel Matip’s goal-line clear­ance from Ben Mee’s header pre­vented a late win­ner.

“That would have been typ­i­cal for us at the mo­ment,” said Klopp.

Liverpool were full of com­bi­na­tions and tricks, but of­ten too far from goal. They were rarely granted an au­di­ence with the Pope from close range, snap­shots keep­ing the 25-year-old alert un­til a late rally when sub­sti­tute Do­minic Solanke struck the bar.

“I am not in a per­fect mood. It is a strange feel­ing,” said Klopp. “We drew but a lot of parts with the game I was pleased. We were flu­ent and cre­ated mo­ments. We did it of­ten enough and with a bet­ter de­ci­sion we could have done more. It was the best per­for­mance ver­sus Burn­ley since I have been here, but not re­sults-wise.

“We had the chance to score but hit the cross­bar. Luck was not wear­ing a Liverpool shirt.”

Burn­ley’s game plan was pre­dictable but ef­fec­tive. Long di­ag­o­nal balls were aimed to­wards Chris Wood, who drifted wide to chal­lenge young right­back Trent Alexan­der-Arnold. From such a move the vis­i­tors took a 26thminute lead, the striker di­rect­ing his header to­wards Liverpool’s area where Ar­field was un­chal­lenged, stroking cleanly past Si­mon Mig­no­let.

Liverpool lev­elled three min­utes later. This time Dy­che was rue­ing slack de­fend­ing as a sim­ple Emre Can pass picked out Salah. Nat­u­rally it was the Egyp­tian’s left foot slam­ming the ball past Pope.

Burn­ley of­fered lit­tle go­ing for­ward, hop­ing an­other Liverpool er­ror would earn them an un­likely win. It al­most did. Af­ter Mee’s 81st-minute header off the line, Mig­no­let de­nied the same player from the re­sult­ing cor­ner.

“Our game plan was not to come here and think we are go­ing to keep the ball all af­ter­noon,” said Dy­che.

“They made seven changes, play­ers who have been brought in for ab­so­lute for­tunes, play­ers on the bench who have come in for £30mil­lion.

“Ev­ery­one says they are hav­ing a tough time with set-pieces. We thought that would be im­por­tant. We had two cleared off the line with set-pieces so our plan was right and to make things un­com­fort­able for them.”

Dy­che did not have to jus­tify his tac­tics. The fact Burn­ley have now won at Chelsea and taken a point at Tot­ten­ham and Liverpool also means there is more to this than the home side’s care­less­ness. A mis­er­able away run last sea­son is al­ready be­ing re­versed.

“They are bit more as­sured,” said Dy­che. “Even against those su­per­power clubs, we think, let’s take it on. The chal­lenge we have as man­agers is we are judged ex­actly the same but the play­ing field is not level. But I don’t want to make too much of a big deal be­cause I be­lieve in my play­ers, how­ever much they cost.”

When Liverpool lost Mane for a month last Jan­uary, he re­turned to find his side had fallen off the pace in the Premier League.

With oth­ers sprint­ing out of the start­ing blocks this sea­son, even the briefest ab­sence of their key player may leave them play­ing catch-up ear­lier than ex­pected.

Well matched: Burn­ley’s Scott Ar­field (left) bat­tles with James Mil­ner dur­ing yes­ter­day’s draw at An­field

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.