Liverpool 0-1 Burnley: Clarets extend torrid Liverpool run
(Photo by Jon Super - Pool/Getty Images)

Liverpool's 68-match unbeaten home run in the league came to an end at the hands of Sean Dyche's resilient Burnley.

The visitors walked away with three points courtesy of an Ashley Barnes' penalty late on in the second half, but the Reds were once again uninspiring for the most part. 

Chances to take the lead were no problem for the Anfield side, just as in their last winless run of four games, but grasping such opportunities were an entirely different matter. 

Jurgen Klopp had few men out of the pitch to seize the day, giving the boss much to think about at both ends of the pitch as the January transfer window deadline draws nearer, who now sit in an uncharacteristic fourth place in the Premier League and six points behind Manchester United.

  • Story of the match

Divock Origi's early audacious strike from 35 yards out turned into a punt soon enough as it sailed high and wide over Nick Pope- a sign of things to come in the half for the striker making his first start this season.

Barnes and his striking partner Chris Wood looked sharp in the opening stages, eyeing each other up with passes to get in behind the Liverpool defensive line and utilise their pace. 

Liverpool's first period was however plagued by long-range strikes that awarded very little.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had their own chance to raise Burnley heart rates with efforts from outside the box, neither troubling Pope.

Thiago and Gini Wijnaldum linked well as a pair in midfield before the Spaniard spread the ball out to Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose cross was read and cut out.

Despite his few decent defensive contributions, notably arriving in all thirds of the pitch, it's becoming obvious that Thiago's best output is utilised a few yards further up than what he starts in at the base of the midfield three, especially given Wijnaldum's adaptability to play in the aforementioned number six role.

Liverpool grew in belief as the half progressed, and perhaps the best chance to take the lead fell to Origi.

Capitalising on Ben Mee's fumbled clearance, the Belgian struck the underside of the bar with an emphatic hit that the Liverpool fans have become accustomed to in recent years, just not rustling Pope's net this time.

Fabinho's apparent kick-out at Barnes may have sparked the most lively scenes of the half, spurring strong words between both managers, with the Brazilian rightly spared anything stronger than a yellow card after a VAR check. 

Pope's double save from Alexander-Arnold's hit on his weaker foot early on after the break denied a Sadio Mane tap in.

Whether the decision to start Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino on the bench was merely tactical or a rest for Sunday's test against Manchester United in the FA Cup, it was clear Liverpool's much more vivacious play, in comparison to recent games, would suit the newly introduced pairing.

A darting venture through the heart of Burnley's defence by Wijnaldum was eventually, and rather meekly, laid off to the Egyptian for a chance to score after just minutes on the Anfield pitch.

Pope nonetheless once again did well after Salah's open positioning may well have suggested the shot would be directed into the opposite corner, reaching down low at his near post and blocking the attempt. 

Burnley were still in the game, Johann Berg Gudmundsson latching on to a Dwight McNeil cross after the latter had the beating of Alexander-Arnold- but the all too familiar lack of incisiveness was the undoing of the Reds at the other end, with Firmino opening his foot up too much from a weighty Andy Roberston cross.

A lofted ball over the top saw Ashley Barnes wriggle away from Fabinho, who after looking for some contact from the Brazilian, found it in another in the goalkeeper Alisson and earned a penalty. 

The perennial Burnley frontman took his chance, his side's first away goal since October 3rd, setting up an unexpected grandstand finale to Liverpool's unbeaten home reign.

Sadio Mane found space and sent a teasing cross in the way of Mo Salah, but nor Salah or substitute Takumi Minamino called for the ball and evaded both, 'what might have been' possibly. 

Fans on Merseyside and beyond did not have to wonder much longer, as Alexander-Arnold put the ball back into the mixer for Firmino to direct goalwards, but was met by the colossus captain Ben Mee to direct elsewhere. 

Deliberation was the order of the day for Liverpool once again, the same fright and panic that sets in in the game's final quarter as Liverpool's search for three points in 2021 continues. 

  • Man of the Match - Nick Pope

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Pope staked his claim on the biggest stage against the champions in his bid to book his place on the England plane for EURO 2021, recording the joint most saves in a Premier League game this season with six.

Vital interceptions on shots from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mo Salah in the second half made the difference and stunted Liverpool's belief in pursuit of a win. 

Not only did the 28-year-old assert himself aerially in the box, his commitment was also encapsulated in a brave headed clearance.

His 90 minutes oozed conviction and dependability behind an already solid James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.