Jurgen Klopp’s complaints about a self-fulfilling prophecy came back to haunt him as Liverpool suffered yet more defensive dithering in the 1-1 draw at home to Burnley.
Liverpool’s shortcomings at the back were placed under the microscope this week after conceding a lead in the midweek Champions League draw with Sevilla.
And despite the German’s protestations, the Clarets provided more evidence for the case against the defence.
Sean Dyche’s well-drilled side took the lead through Scott Arfield with their first shot on target. Hesitation by centre-backs Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan allowed the ball to drop between them in the middle of the penalty area.
Mohamed Salah’s fifth goal of the season, and his fourth in succession at Anfield, quickly restored parity. But what followed was more a failure of Klopp’s attack to break down Burnley’s determined defence as they finished with 35 shots but just nine on target.
Philippe Coutinho made his first start of the season and we analyse his performance in a frustrating day for the Reds.
Goals – 0
Shots – 7 (T-1st)
Shots on target – 0
Touches – 96 (2nd)
Key passes – 4 (T-2nd)
Dribbles – 3 (T-1st)
Dispossessed – 0
Aerials won – 0
Beating his man? Check. Spreading the play? Check. Liverpool’s driving force? Also check. How about shooting? Check the stats, they read seven shots and zero on target.
The Brazilian ran the show in his return to the first team but his shooting was simply atrocious. The Reds were utterly dominant from start to finish and Coutinho was the man pulling the strings and pulling Burnley left and right.
He wasn’t the only one at fault for their inability to find a winner but he was a chief culprit with his desperation to score obvious and perhaps negligible.
Burnley couldn’t get close to him as he picked up the ball in dangerous areas but instead of trying to break them down he too often looked to shoot and every time it was wayward.
Still, an element of rust is maybe expected and up until his shooting he was outstanding.
50: Coutinho weaves around a succession of challenges to make room for a shot, but it's over the bar from the Brazilian— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 16, 2017
5th min THREATENING: Busy already, he drops his shoulder one way before switching the ball the other to prize open the Burnley defence who can only half clear before they’re on the backfoot again as a fizzing cross slices across goal and is eventually lumped away.
42nd min CHANCE: Delightful play from Coutinho as he threaded through an perfectly weighted pass for Daniel Sturridge who takes the ball in his stride only to hammer his drive from the left of the box against the side-netting.
50th min SHOT: Once again Coutinho has the Burnley back four backing off and his excellent close control to shimmy the ball onto his left puts players on the deck but not for the first time he shot from range is well off target.
58th min SHOT: Wave after wave, Liverpool relentlessly keep coming forward and this time Coutinho has an effort deflected wide as he cut in from the left.
78th min SUBSTITUTED: Just before he comes off he’s beaten his man again with supreme balance but he infuriatingly blasts another effort well over the bar as he’s taken off for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Everything but the goal, it really is as succinct as that. Liverpool looked a far more dangerous side with Coutinho at the heart of their attack.
He beat players with ease, had Burnley panicking every time he got on the ball but the only issue was he had the man in the stand frightening as well as has blazed effort after effort over.
Still, he shouldn’t have been taken off as he looked their most like route to a winner.
All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com