For the first time since January 2019, Liverpool were unable to secure maximum points at their fortress Anfield as Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League champions were held to a 1-1 draw against Burnley.
Andy Robertson got the Reds on their way to a 31st league victory of the season with a stunning header before Jay Rodriguez fired a second-half equaliser to ensure both teams had a share of the spoils on Merseyside.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the fixture…
Liverpool lack usual ruthless edge
Jurgen Klopp will feel bemused to just how his team didn’t secure all the points having dominated so much of the match, in particular the first half.
The German manager wasn’t happy with the officials following manner of Burnley’s goal after a free-kick was wrongly awarded after Mane and Salah were incorrectly deemed offside.
Credit must be given to the Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope who was utterly outstanding to prevent the match falling out of the Claret’s reach following a number of exquisite saves.
Mohamed Salah should have left with the match ball following a number of crucial chances for the Egyptian but the Liverpool top scorer had a rare off afternoon and was lacking his usual clinical edge.
Roberto Firmino also should have ended his Premier League duck at Anfield for the season after the Brazilian saw his left-footed effort brush off the post.
Liverpool’s goal itself was, in fact, one of the rare occasions where the Reds were utterly relentless after Fabinho’s beautifully weighted pass met the head of Robertson who finished superbly to claim his second goal of the season.
However, it proved to be as good as it got for the champions who failed to punish a Burnley outfit who are certainly indebted to their goalkeeper Pope, who was able to keep Liverpool at bay before the visitors became the first team this season to leave Anfield with something tangible to show for their efforts.
Fabinho back to his brilliant best
One of the burning questions before the return of football was whether Fabinho would be able to return to his best following a lengthy ligament injury that was sustained back in November.
After months on the sidelines, the Brazilian was able to make a recovery in the new year but performances were unconvincing and Fabinho was struggling to replicate the form that had quickly established himself as one of the league’s finest defensive midfielders.
Today’s performance against Burnley was another timely reminder to just how important Fabinho has become for Klopp and his team.
He was able to consistently thwart Burnley counter-attacks and keep his team ticking from the back. It was Fabinho’s vision that was able to find a breakthrough for his team after his exquisite lofted pass to Robertson opened the scoring in the first half.
It has taken time for Fabinho to finally rediscover his best form but it could have come at the perfect time for Klopp and Liverpool as the former Monaco man will be fundamental in the Reds’ title defence next season.
Curtis Jones the perfect replacement for Lallana
Klopp has made it clear time and time again that Liverpool will look to make additions to their title-winning XI internally with a number of impressive youngsters at the manager’s disposal.
He was true to his word today after handing academy graduate Jones his first PL start of the season against Burnley.
Already Jones seems the perfect like-for-like replacement for Adam Lallana who will leave the club at the end of the season.
Jones was extremely influential in the first half and completed a total of 79 passes as well as a pass success rate of 89 per cent.
He was able to register three shots at goal but was ultimately denied by the heroics of Pope who made eight saves to deny Liverpool.
The record still in sight
Despite failing to secure all three points, the record points haul for Liverpool is still firmly in sight with three matches of the season remaining.
The draw takes the Reds to 93 points after 35 matches, seven points shy of Manchester City’s record tally of 100 points in 2017/18.
Liverpool need eight points from their final three fixtures of the season against Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle to secure the record.
The Reds can also surpass the record for number of victories achieved in a season that is currently held by Pep Guardiola’s City (32).
Standards haven’t dropped
With the title won, there can be a tendency for a team to drop off once they achieved their goals but Liverpool to their credit have still maintained their usual intensity since the PL returned last month.
Results may not highlight Liverpool’s dominance following 10 points from a possible 18 but Klopp has still been able to ensure that standards are maintained by his players.
It’s worth reflecting that the Reds at the time of writing are currently a gargantuan 24 points ahead of second-place City with just three fixtures remaining- a Premier League record.
While the Reds may have been off the pace in terms of their cutting edge in attack, the performance served enough evidence that Liverpool are determined to finish the season as strongly as possible before attention turn to defending their crown next season.
- Five things we learned as Liverpool held by Burnley in 1-1 draw
- Confirmed Liverpool XI v Burnley