Comment and Analysis @ghostgoal
Win maintains 100 per cent record and breaks club record run
Last Updated: 01/09/19 1:01am
Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane were in fine form for Liverpool at Burnley
Liverpool were impressive in beating Burnley 3-0 at Turf Moor. Any fears that Jurgen Klopp’s team would struggle to sustain the form they showed last season are already being dispelled, writes Adam Bate.
When Everton held Liverpool to a draw at Goodison Park in early March, the home supporters celebrated having dented their rivals’ hopes of winning the title. Jurgen Klopp did not appear too disappointed at the time because there were “a lot of games to play” – he could not have known that Manchester City would also win their last nine matches too.
That’s history now but the significance of Liverpool’s response resonates in the present. They have won every single Premier League game that they have played since that day nearly six months ago. Thirteen wins on the bounce, breaking the club record set by Kenny Dalglish’s side in October 1990. What a reaction it has been from Klopp’s team.
Jurgen Klopp says he is extremely pleased with the attitude of his players
“I am happy it’s a record, it’s really nice,” he said. “We don’t go for these records. This team wants to write their own stories and their own history. They are doing and doing and doing. The one thing is the number. The other is, in the thirteenth game of that series, showing the attitude that the boys showed under pressure. The boys do that every time.”
Nine wins to finish last season in such relentless form was one thing. Liverpool were in the thick of a title race and on the way to European glory too. But being the only team to win their first four Premier League games of the current campaign too? It has been an emphatic message to City and the rest. No sign of deflation. Only an added incentive to succeed.
Klopp admitted afterwards that he could not have anticipated that his players – several of them thought to be physically and mentally exhausted following their summer exertions – could possibly have picked up the pace so quickly. He knew this would be a big challenge for his team, with a trip to Istanbul to contest the Super Cup only adding to the complications.
Highlights from Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League
“Pre-season didn’t go too well,” Jamie Carragher told Daily Week Sports. “So you are thinking how are Liverpool going to start the season? They are top and they’ve won a trophy. It’s been a brilliant start, more than Jurgen Klopp could’ve really hoped for. Yes, there were some games you would expect them to win but they’ve come through it with flying colours.”
Liverpool were expected to beat Burnley but they could not afford to take this team lightly. It’s not a place to just turn up and hope. Not at a fired up Turf Moor with Ashley Barnes in form and the problems posed at every free-kick. “Every set piece is a massive threat,” said Klopp. “Massive.” But Liverpool resisted to keep their first clean sheet of the campaign.
That was some vindication for Klopp given the scrutiny there has been on his team’s high defensive line – scrutiny that would only have increased had Chris Wood converted an early chance when he ran in behind. Sean Dyche had targeted this as an area to exploit. “They are playing a much higher back line that we wanted to affect and we did,” he said.
In truth, Burnley had few clear-cut chances after that. Instead, Virgil van Dijk became a ball magnet. Each time Burnley tossed the ball into the box, he was there to repel it. Van Dijk made no fewer 11 clearances in the match. That was not just more than anyone else on the pitch but it was more than the rest of his Liverpool team-mates combined.
“Van Dijk has made a huge difference to them, not just his own ability but the effect on others,” said Dyche. “They’re a strong defensive unit now so it’s hard to break them down.”
Questions had been asked of the defence in the opening weeks. This was a good answer. It’s also worth noting that Liverpool have scored at least twice in all 13 of their wins. Scoring once against them, as Norwich, Southampton and Arsenal did, is an achievement. Scoring enough to stop them from winning is another thing entirely with these forwards.
Far from starting the season slowly, the busy summer looks to have had the opposite effect on the front three. They are already in peak form while the rest are still warming up. Against Arsenal, Mohamed Salah made the difference. At Burnley, he did not get his goal but it did not matter much because Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were both on target instead.
The second goal was classic Liverpool as Firmino seized upon a sloppy Ben Mee pass and fed the ball to Mane for him to convert. “They were clinical today,” said Dyche. “We gave the ball away and you cannot do it against these because they will pounce. They wait for their moments and when they get their moments they hurt you.”
Salah and Mane now have 30 goals each in all competitions for Liverpool since the start of last season. If there was any concern whatsoever at Burnley it was that they might be taking that internal battle a little too seriously given Mane’s frustrated reaction after Salah neglected to pass to him during the second half. At least Klopp was able to laugh it off.
Mane cut a frustrated figure after being substituted against Burnley
As well he might. He knows the star pair are in fine form – there are no signs of their levels dropping. As for Firmino, a forward who could never be accused of selfishness, he looks in even better fettle this time around. The Brazilian was superb last weekend against Arsenal and just as good this time around, dropping into space and always making good decisions.
Will it be enough to go one place better and finally win that Premier League title? City will have something to say about that, of course. But the signs are so promising for Liverpool.
When Dalglish’s team set the record, they were the reigning champions but were actually overhauled that season by Arsenal. It is different for this Liverpool side. Their title win is still to come. They still have the hunger. This result is just the latest reminder that being edged out last season was not the end of their showdown with City. The best could be yet to come.
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