Liverpool came from a goal behind to beat Burnley 2-1, in what was Sunday’s only piece of Premier League action.
The Reds entered the tie off the back of a thrilling victory over Arsenal in the previous week, with pressure mounting down on the shoulders of everyone concerned to earn a first successive league win since December and silence all critics of their form against mid-to-bottom table sides.
A seventh minute opener by Burnley’s Ashley Barnes in front of the Kop would’ve done little to help them achieve that, however, as a ‘here-we-go-again’ sigh was heard all around Anfield.
Georginio Wijnaldum lead the come-back with an equalising goal before half-time, though, setting Liverpool up perfectly for the second half and it would be his fellow midfielder Emre Can who won it for the Reds, with a well placed strike from long range.
Here are five things we learned from a sunny afternoon in Merseyside.
Reds grind out a result
Far from pleasing about Sunday’s result for Liverpool would’ve been the Reds’ performance on their way to earning it.
Somewhat unexpectedly, Burnley began the match on the front foot, snuffing out the threat of their opponents’ attack as well as creating a threat of their own. The Anfield faithful were on edge and it looked and felt as though another disappointing result against an unfancied opponent was on its way.
However, with little sophistication and entertainment but dirty hard-work, Jürgen Klopp’s men fought back to get a much-needed win against the Clarets, and it is one that may be looked back upon as vital, should they reach the top four come the end of the season.
Another home goal for Wijnaldum
It’s the awkwardly puzzling statistic that many football fans just can’t seem to put their finger on.
Ever since last season, his first in English football, Georginio Wijnaldum has scored sixteen Premier League goals for both Liverpool and Newcastle United and yet all of them have come during home games.
His equaliser for the Reds against Burnley was his fifth of the campaign, though, and for a player who has had to adapt to a new demanding midfield role, the Dutchman deserves credit for his efforts – though few people would hate to see him do the business away from home.
Consistent displays needed from Can
If there’s one thing that absolutely frustrates Liverpool fans about Emre Can, it’s that he’s got the potential to be a class act in midfield, is also a very lovable character but struggles to show that side of him on a consistent basis.
Last week against Arsenal, he was one of Liverpool’s better players in place of injured skipper Jordan Henderson, making his physical presence felt in the middle but against Burnley, he largely struggled to show the same quality.
Silly fouls and giving the ball away easily seems to have always been a key weakness of his and it was on show against the Clarets for most of the first half.
Credit does have to be given to Can for an improved second half display, which was crowned by a brilliant goal and the Premier League’s Man of the Match award.
However, the general argument will still be that in order to successfully develop into the top midfielder he can be, Can needs to start showing his quality consistently.
Klavan impresses again
It may not have been a day for outstanding performances in attack, but one man who definitely stood out in defence – and for Klopp’s team overall – was Ragnar Klavan.
Estonia’s national team captain made a second consecutive start alongside Jöel Matip, and ahead of Lucas, at the heart of Liverpool’s defence. Just as he did against Arsenal, Klavan impressed again after the Reds’ shaky start, dealing with the threat of Andre Gray with his wise movement and making some important clearances.
The former Augsburg man’s most important contribution of the day, though, was his blocking of a shot from Barnes shortly after Liverpool had taken the lead, as it was a potentially match-saving effort.
Klavan’s performance is once again likely to earn him good reviews, as well as a continued place in Klopp’s first eleven in place of Dejan Lovren.
More ‘dirty’ wins needed in final run-in
Reds boss Klopp has already given his players the challenge of remaining unbeaten from now until the end of the season, in what should be a fierce race to make next season’s Champions League tournament.
It must be said that if the German’s side are to accomplish that feat, then more ‘dirty’ wins – like Sunday’s against Burnley – are needed. To put it plainly, Liverpool need to forget about entertaining observers or earning high digits on Player Rating platforms, the Reds simply need to win.
Up next in the league is a visit to Manchester City, followed by a spicy home encounter against Everton.
Big games indeed, so the Anfield faithful is likely to be excited given their side’s record against top-level teams (not that I think Everton are that, really!) but with the rest of Liverpool’s schedule dominated with games against mid-to-lower table sides, it certainly shouldn’t matter how Klopp’s men do it, it should simply be done.