Liverpool 4-2 Burnley: Player ratings as the Reds move back to within a point of Man City

Alex Rea 10/03/2019
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Sadio Mane

Through wind, rain, sleet plus a fortuitous opener for Burnley, Liverpool recovered from a goal down to move back to within a point of Premier League leaders Manchester City with a 4-2 win on Sunday.

Ashley Westwood stunned the Anfield crowd when his corner, with assistance from some slack officiating and the gusty conditions, curled straight in to give Burnley a sixth-minute lead.

Liverpool surged forward in search of an equaliser and it arrived following good work from Mohamed Salah who crossed for Roberto Firmino to tap home 13 minute later.

Sadio Mane put the Reds in front with a fine finish before the half-hour mark. Firmino was gifted his second after the break to help Liverpool pull away. Mane missed from a yard out but did grab his second as well after substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson had initially made it 3-2 in injury time.

Here, we rate the Liverpool players after securing a crucial three points.

LIVERPOOL 4-3-3

Alisson 6 – Was offered zero protection from the referee when grappled by two Burnley players as Ashley Westwood’s corner floated in. Was otherwise assured despite the chaotic conditions.

Trent Alexander-Arnold 5 – Struggled to contain the tricky wideman Dwight McNeil after the break and it restricted his influence going forward. Needed the assistance of Van Dijk to quell the threat.

Joel Matip 5 – Innocuous errors are the ones which can cost teams and Matip’s uncontested headed clearance because of poor communication led to the opener. Recovered decently enough to help blanket Burnely’s two burly forwards.

Virgil van Dijk 7 – Remarkably untroubled considering the conditions. Classy interventions despite having to adjust his body position to accommodate for the wind. His long diagonal balls out the back were a feature of their play going forward as well.

Andrew Robertson 6 – Much of Burnley’s counter attacks were funneled down Liverpool’s right so he enjoyed freedom to raid down the left. Lots of energy and always a threat when crossing into the box.

Georginio Wijnaldum 6 – The game didn’t really require his excellence with play bypassing Liverpool’s midfield, but was typically positive and assertive whenever he did get on it.

Fabinho 6 – Picked up a yellow card for a recovering tackle but that was his one mistimed intercept because the Brazilian broke up play effectively and used the ball efficiently.

Adam Lallana 8 – Put in the side by Klopp because he’d trained exceptionally well and that translated on Sunday. Tidy interceptions, showed some neat body feints to protect and then release the ball. Fantastic block on the edge of Burnley’s box which created Mane’s goal. Did tire late on, though.

Mohamed Salah 7 – Just like in his last home fixture against Watford, was vastly improved on a anonymous away trip. First touch was exemplary, roasted Charlie Taylor whenever he was one v one and his excellent interchange on the right engineered the equaliser. Created the third after Tom Heaton’s poor clearance.

Roberto Firmino 7 – Two quite fortunate goals, both created by Salah and thanks in part to Burnley blunders. Now 11 league goals which means all of Liverpool’s front three have reached double figures this term.

Roberto Firmino

Roberto Firmino

Sadio Mane 8 – A superb first-time finish to put Liverpool in front and a 15th Premier League goal of the season having scored for the sixth straight home game. Anfield was exhibiting all the elements and Mane mirrored that by heating up and providing ice-cold finishes as he scored his 16th of the season in injury time.

SUBSTITUTES

Jordan Henderson 6 – Change in midfield saw Wijnaldum exit and the club captain introduced in the 68th minute to help contain any counter-attacks.

Naby Keita 6 – Brought on with 15 minutes left to replace Lallana and was tidy in possession.

Daniel Sturridge N/A – Introduced late on with Alexander-Arnold struggling with a shoulder injury and assisted Mane in injury despite being in an offside position.

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John Barnes calls for calm and says Liverpool can still win the Premier League

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Liverpool's midfield has struggled to score or create goals.

Former Liverpool winger John Barnes believes the club can still win the Premier League and called for calm amid growing criticism of Jurgen Klopp’s approach.

Four draws in the last six league matches have handed the initiative to Manchester City, with Klopp’s midfield coming in for most of the scrutiny after failing to create scoring chances.

Since Boxing Day midfield has accounted for just one of the 22 goals Liverpool have scored in the league – Georginio Wijnaldum’s strike in the 3-0 win over Bournemouth a month ago.

It is why so many Liverpool fans are desperate for the return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who played his first 45 minutes of competitive action for the under-23s at Derby on Friday.

However, Barnes insists critics should be looking at the bigger picture.

John Barnes has called for calm amid a poor run of results.

John Barnes has called for calm amid a poor run of results.

“With regards to the lack of creativity and negative perception of Liverpool – we are one point off the top so therefore much better than we were last year when we weren’t being criticised,” he told Press Association Sport at a Show Racism the Red Card event at Anfield.

“People have to keep calm. We can still win the league. Maybe we are defending better, which is why we are not being more creative.

“We were more creative last year, but we were conceding more goals.

“The balance is important, the balance is right. If we stay calm and stay together we still have a chance.”

Manager Klopp, meanwhile, is prepared for a tough test at Anfield on Sunday against a Burnley side who made life very difficult for them in the 3-1 win at Turf Moor three months ago.

It was a game which was notable for the physicality of the Clarets players – something Klopp remarked upon afterwards.

Having watched Burnley beat Tottenham last month Barnes is wary of the threat they will pose.

“They are so consistent with what they are doing,” he added.

Jurgen Klopp

“Burnley stand for a specific way to play: very physical, very intense, really well-organised, set-pieces brilliant, chasing each ball.

“The game at Turf Moor is not the most important for us to analyse. We need to create, we need to have ideas, be lively but patient as well.

“Historically against Burnley it is always difficult because they have a high motivation level and they are always fighting in a game.

“When you analyse the last three or four games you have to say, ‘Respect’. They beat Tottenham and that doesn’t happen too many times in the year.

“I am sure they are looking forward to Sunday’s game as they feel they have a chance and we have to make sure that does not happen.”

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's Liverpool comeback cut short by injury scare

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Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to competitive action after 11 months out with a knee injury ended prematurely.

The England international was scheduled to play 45 minutes in the under-23s’ Premier League 2 match at Derby but was taken off four minutes before half-time as a precaution.

Oxlade-Chamberlain had been holding his right hamstring a few minutes earlier and, Press Association Sport understands, Liverpool were not prepared to take any risks in his return from serious knee ligament damage sustained last April.

The 25-year-old had shown some nice touches during the time he was on the pitch, especially one low crossfield ball to the left wing with the outside of his right foot and another 50-yard diagonal with his left which was instantly controlled by Ben Woodburn.

However, it was very much a performance of feeling his way back in as he kept himself out of any trouble and there was little in the way of driving runs from midfield for which he is associated with.

Having been taken off just before the break, he took the five-minute walk back to the changing rooms with a physio during which time he happily posed for photographs with fans.

When asked how he was, Oxlade-Chamberlain said: “Yeah, all good.”

After the 3-1 victory Liverpool’s Under-23s coach Neil Critchley said of the midfielder’s problem: “He obviously had a bit of an issue but hopefully it is nothing major.

“The bonus for him is it is not his knee, he is delighted there are no problems with that. He was enjoying himself and was happy to be back playing.

“What was good was he was sensible and came off quickly. I think he handled that situation well.”

Critchley praised the influence Oxlade-Chamberlain brought to the game in the short time he was on the pitch.

“I’ve never met him before and you can see he is a bubbly, positive person and you could see he was enjoying playing again and he brought a calmness and maturity to our play,” he added.

“The lads were delighted to play with someone like that. We sometimes forget they just love playing football and I think it was exciting for Alex to put his boots, shin pads and kit back on, feel like a kid again and it was great to see him out there playing.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to be assessed by Liverpool’s medical staff on Saturday but manager Jurgen Klopp had already moved to play down his comeback before he even took to the field, saying he was unlikely to feature until after the international break at the very earliest.

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