It may not have been pretty, but in the grand scheme of their season, Liverpool‘s comeback victory here at Anfield seems pretty important.
Jurgen Klopp’s side struggled badly against Burnley and for all the world looked as though they would again be embarrassed by a team in the bottom half of the table.
But through what seemed like sheer will – and no small measure of luck – they clawed their way back from a disastrous early goal for the visitors’ Ashley Barnes, to show they can win against struggling sides.
In truth, this was still a well below par performance for Liverpool, but given it extends their gap over Arsenal and Manchester United in fourth place in the Premier League, it was still a significant win.
Man of the man Georginio Wijnaldum proved their inspiration and saviour, scoring just on the stroke of half time to level, and then assisting Emre Can to finally put the Reds ahead, in the face of some gritty defending from Burnley.
Here, David Maddock looks at some of the key issues.
1. Reds lack leaders
Jurgen Klopp keeps suggesting there are no such things as “leaders” in modern football, but it sure as hell looked as though Liverpool needed some in the first half against Burnley.
Without Jordan Henderson, Liverpool lacked any real drive in the middle of the park for too long periods, and someone to get them pumping.
2. Barton proving an astute signing
Say what you like about Joey Barton – go on, say it! – but he does provide his own peculiar brand of leadership in the middle there, with his narrow-eyed commitment and fiery temperament.
Sean Dyche made a clever call in bringing him back to Turf Moor, and his work ethic is a big reason they remained in the game here at Anfield.
3. Coutinho’s inconsistency a cause for concern
Liverpool’s inconsistency was no clearly typified by Philippe Coutinho’s performance. Against Arsenal, he was sublime, against Burnley….well another word beginning with S, but a little shorter.
How can such a talented player look so ordinary for so long as he did here? Fans are beginning to wonder whether he can handle the physical demands, and it seems a fair question. He was deservedly subbed after an hour.
4. Keane and Mee prove good value at the back
There are few questions to be asked about Burnley’s defence.
They may not have picked up many points on their travels, but cruel defeats at the Emirates and Etihad belied their performance, and the draw at Old Trafford showed they are organised and resolute.
Liverpool needed an amount of luck to turn this game around, and both Michael Keane and Ben Mee didn’t deserve that.
5. Klopp must thank Wijnaldum for lifting Reds
Liverpool must thank goodness then, for Giorginio Wijnaldum. He’s been accused of being a “homer”, but at least he stands up and is counted at Anfield.
He was virtually the only Reds player with presence in the first half, and that showed with both his goal and the assist for the second that clawed his team back when it looked hugely unlikely they would.