Burnley frustrated Liverpool this afternoon to mean Jurgen Klopp’s side have not won since August 27, when they battered Arsenal 4-0.
Prior to the game a mosaic commemorating Liverpool FC’s 125th birthday was held up, but the game that followed caused little opportunity for celebration.
Right from the outset, Burnley were determined to run the clock down, with referee Roger East allowing them to do so freely. The game had the feeling of frustration within the first ten minutes as every set-piece, including throw-ins, ate up thirty seconds or more.
Liverpool attacked and created chances for Mo Salah and then Trent Alexander-Arnold, with Philippe Coutinho, restored to the line-up, heavily involved.
It was a steady start, but the breaks in play were not aiding Liverpool in quickening their movements. Burnley had successfully broken their free-flowing football.
Daniel Sturridge held up the ball expertly and drew a foul from James Tarkowski, but when Coutinho’s quick pass found the path of Alexander-Arnold, the young full-back’s cross was closed down.
Burnley were resolute and defensively sound, but the play was all coming from the home side, kicking towards the Kop.
Against the run of play, and with their first real foray into Liverpool territory, Scott Arfield fired the visitors in front.
Robbie Brady crossed from the left, and with Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan both challenging Chris Wood, Arfield was left unmarked to stroke home a strike into the bottom left corner, beyond the outstretched Simon Mignolet, who was helpless.
The shock lead was not intact long, as Liverpool struck back.
Salah controlled a ball from Emre Can and then fired a shot into the near post, beating goalkeeper Tom Pope. The shot was clinical, something that has not always been true of the Egyptian despite this being his third league goal of the campaign, and restored parity.
It was Salah who continued to test Burnley, probing as Liverpool tried to find a second goal before half-time.
Coutinho was also involved from the midfield, but he took too many touches and was guilty of losing possession on a couple of occasions.
A seeming reluctance to pass to Andrew Robertson, often free in the left channel, was also frustrating the Anfield crowd, some of whom clearly have fallen out of love with their number 10 after the summer’s attempts at forcing a move to Barcelona.
At the break, it was all square, with Liverpool dominant, an all too familiar story.
Once the second half begun, the pattern of play was exactly the same. Sturridge attempted a chip which sailed over, before Coutinho blasted one well over the top from 25 yards a minute later, but with every goal kick came the chance for goalkeeper Pope to waste some valuable seconds.
He was eventually cautioned for time wasting, but continued in the same vein regardless, knowing that the referee would be a very brave man to show a second yellow for the same offence, even if that should have been the case.
The pressure was unrelenting when the ball was in play, with James Milner dragging a shot wide of the post and Coutinho shooting over once more, but there were no clear-cut opportunities. Most of the shots were coming from outside the area, and most were horribly off target.
One of Coutinho’s long-range shots ended up in the upper tier of the Anfield Road end.
Neat work from Sturridge put Milner in, but Tarkowski made a good block, in what was the most clear-cut chance of the half.
Coutinho and Firmino were replaced by Dominic Solanke and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with a little over ten minutes to go, but neither made the desired impact, and many in the crowd felt Klopp had acted too late.
It was in fact Burnley who came closest to winning the game in the final stages. Emre Can and Ragnar Klavan failed to adequately communicate and conceded a cheap corner, and the resulting header from Ben Mee had to be cleared off the line by Matip.
Time was running out. Salah shot straight at Pope before Can forced the goalkeeper into a good save from outside the penalty area, before the German and Jack Cork both went into the book for a needless scuffle.
Liverpool had a chance to win the game from a corner, but nothing came of it and it finished 1-1.
With 35 shots on goal, Liverpool only scored once, meaning a lack of ruthlessness in attack and poor defending on Burnley’s goal saw them drop points once again.
They will be hoping for a better performance and a first win in four games when they face Leicester City on Tuesday night, but will once again be without the suspended Sadio Mané.
Simon Mignolet, 7 – was largely a spectator and did what he could; sometimes too slow in his distribution
Trent Alexander-Arnold, 6 – lack of quality in the final third and was targeted for Burnley’s goal; did provide some width and quality, but far from his best day
Joel Matip, 7 – excellent on occasion when coming out from the back; again, hardly tested except for the goal when he was not at fault, and when he cleared off the line near the end
Ragnar Klavan, 5 – not good enough for the goal and not sharp enough in distribution; obvious, but failure to sign an upgrade has hindered Liverpool once more
Andrew Robertson, 7 – offered some quality and some indifferent balls into the box; certainly down a peg from his debut but no worse than Alberto Moreno has produced
Emre Can, 6 – certainly a level up on what he produced against Sevilla, but still not at the level he can reach, and should reach far more often
James Milner, 6 – got into some good positions but not a natural creator, which is what was required in this type of game
Philippe Coutinho, 5 – appeared to be trying too hard for the most part; overdid the dribbling and took too many touches time and time again, and blazed a couple of shots well over the bar
Mohamed Salah, 8 – Liverpool’s best attacking threat and their goalscorer; could easily have won a penalty and was a clear target every time they got the ball
Daniel Sturridge, 6 – did his best to create, but has lost a yard of pace and wasn’t given an inch to work in
Roberto Firmino, 7 – never got the time and space to cause damage and wasn’t as happy to be in a wider role, rather than his usual central berth
Dominic Solanke (78th minute sub.), 6 – offered a threat in behind from crosses and showed some good touches; could have had more of an impact had he come on a little earlier
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (79th minute sub.), 5 – played a couple of decent forward balls but found it hard to get into the game and make a real impact late on
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