Andy Robertson believes Liverpool‘s ruthless display against Burnley was perfect preparation going into a vital Champions League week.
The Reds had five shots on target at home to the Clarets on Sunday and converted four with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane both scoring twice in a 4-2 victory.
In their last six matches in all competitions Jurgen Klopp’s team have had three goalless draws but have found the net 12 times in the other three.
The performance against Burnley was ideally timed ahead of facing Bayern Munich on Wednesday, with the last-16 second-leg tie delicately poised at 0-0.
So far this season Liverpool have lost all three away games in the Champions League but Sunday’s display has given Robertson confidence they will be better in Germany.
“The work-rate from all of us was brilliant, our counter-press to get the ball quickly and our reactions to poor passes or chances missed,” said defender Robertson, on his 25th birthday.
“We reacted well and we looked positive, that’s what we needed to get better at. We did that. We kept going and we were ruthless when the chances came.
“Last season we were good away from home in the Champions League, we caused teams problems and that’s what we need to do again.
“It will probably be a different game, they’ll need to come out a bit more, their fans will demand they try to create.
“It’s all about trying to keep them out first and foremost and then hopefully we can take the chances we get and do enough to get through.”
A return to winning ways in the Premier League means Liverpool reduced the gap to leaders Manchester City to one point.
For only the third time in their history, they have amassed 73 points from 30 matches. On the previous two occasions they went on to win the title: in 1904/05 in Division Two and the top-flight campaign of 1987/88.
“It’s another game down, eight to go. It’s going to be exciting one way or another,” Robertson told liverpoolfc.com.
“We need to give 100 per cent in every single game and whether it gets us a trophy or it doesn’t, we need to deal with that.
“The position we’re in now, one point behind with eight games to go, if we perform like that – especially with our attitude – then it’ll stand us in good stead.
“We’ve got some tough games coming up but we look forward to the chase and hopefully we can push them all the way.”
Doubles for Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino sealed a Liverpool comeback win that put them a point behind leaders Manchester City.
Relegation-battling Burnley took a controversial sixth-minute lead with Ashley Westwood’s first goal in three years.
As the midfielder curled in directly from a corner, Alisson was sandwiched by Jack Cork and James Tarkowski, who seemed to lean down on the Reds keeper to avoid him rising to reach the ball.
Alisson was booked for his vehement protests.
But back came the Reds, who levelled when both keeper Tom Heaton and Tarkowski somehow failed to cut out Mohamed Salah’s low cross and Firmino had a tap in.
Mane then finished coolly after more good pressing on the Burnley backline before Firmino slotted in again from close range.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson poked in an injury-time strike, but Mane added a fourth just before the end as Liverpool matched a club record, set in 1988, for most points after 30 games.
REDS SHOW FIGHTING SPIRIT AND STYLE
Anyone questioning Liverpool’s willingness – and ability – to fight for the title need look no further than this display to find a resounding answer.
With a blizzard engulfing Anfield at times and gusty winds to aid Burnley’s expected aerial attacking bombardment, this had all the makings of an upset result, especially when the visitors ahead.
It was controversial, wouldn’t have counted if VAR had been in use, and Liverpool’s hopes could have been blown away had they not composed themselves and shown the spirit and style needed to keep pace with Manchester City at the top.
Key to this was the return to form of their fearsome threesome up front.
Salah didn’t get his 50th club goal, but was back to his bewitching best, conjuring up opportunities with the spellbinding skill we have witnessed on countless occasions.
Roberto Firmino got two tap-ins, but swapped positions with Salah on the wing to make several clever supporting runs.
Sadio Mane also roamed to create danger and became the fifth Liverpool player to score in six consecutive home home league games, joining Salah, Michael Owen, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez.
It was the perfect response to recent criticism – and Liverpool are definitely up for the fight.
LALLANA OFFERS FRESH IMPETUS
There was much consternation and confusion pre-match when Adam Lallana’s name appeared in the starting line up.
Despair even as Xherdan Shaqiri was ignored again.
Having struggled with injuries over the past two seasons, Lallana has played a bit-part role in the Reds title challenge and last started in the disappointing 1-1 draw at West Ham.
But two seasons ago the midfielder was among Liverpool’s best players – and impressed for England too – and Jurgen Klopp clearly hasn’t forgotten what he can contribute.
Here, Lallana provided a link between midfield and the frontmen that has been somewhat lacking recently, and much-needed creativity alongside the more diligent and defensive Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho.
Lallana was industrious and inventive. He was also hungry, to perform and prove a point.
The challenge to block Phil Bardsley’s clearance was crucial in his side’s second goal.
That desire and willingness to fight for the ball, for his place, was welcome. As he left to a standing ovation, Klopp’s decision was vindicated.
HEATON HAPLESS AS HE FAILS ANFIELD AUDITION
After a difficult summer where injury ruled him out of the World Cup and he lost his starting spot to Joe Hart, it appeared Tom Heaton could be on his way out of Burnley.
He was even linked with a move to the Championship to get playing time.
But his return to the No1 spot at the end of December coincided with the club’s upturn in fortunes as they battle against relegation.
Heaton was crucial to that – and will no doubt be in the remainder of the campaign.
But it was a missed opportunity for the England man at Anfield as two clangers contributed hugely to his side’s defeat.
It also probably cost him the chance of staking a strong claim to start for his country again in the forthcoming internationals. With Jordan Pickford’s form erratic, Heaton had the perfect stage to shine, but usually dependable, he flopped miserably.
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.
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.
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.
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.