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Liverpool vs. Burnley reaction: Diogo Jota and Trent Alexander-Arnold shine in another win | ESPN FC
22 August, 2021 - 02:30pm
22 August, 2021 - 02:30pm
Date published: Saturday 21st August 2021 3:30 - Will Ford
A report in June claimed Jurgen Klopp was ‘planning to change the Liverpool system’ this season. He was said to want Thiago to be ‘the heartbeat of the team’, while we put Youri Tielemans forward as a potential addition to enact that role.
Shortly after half-time at Anfield on Saturday, Harvey Elliott got in behind the Burnley midfield after a neat ball through the lines. He had around 20 yards of space between him and the opposition back four, but instead of driving forward with the ball at his feet, he attempted a pass, while off balance, out to the right towards Alexander-Arnold. It wasn’t really on.
Perhaps Alexander-Arnold is abusing his mentoring role to condition Elliott into feeding him the ball no matter what, but Naby Keita and Diogo Jota were also guilty of forcing it through to the Liverpool right-back, with better placed options available.
A huge proportion of attacks came down the right. Elliott – who was very impressive on his first Premier League start – drifted towards that side from his attacking midfield role and Salah was typically brilliant, running behind and cutting in. But almost everything went through Alexander-Arnold. It was almost as though his teammates felt as though he needed to be involved for them to score a goal.
Kostas Tsimikas clearly didn’t get that memo, producing a cross his full-back counterpart would have been proud of to find Jota to open the scoring. But Alexander-Arnold had 101 touches to his 65 and was the primary source of danger throughout.
His crossing from the touchline was on point, the speed and accuracy of his passing into midfield was magnificent and he capped a wonderful attacking display with a beautifully delicate assist for Sadio Mane.
The clipped ball round the corner itself was delightful, but his run inside Elliott to find space was a thinking footballer’s move, and that, combined with the glance over his shoulder to see where Mane was before the ball arrived was – dare I say it – Steven Gerrard-esque.
My reticence is not in comparing Alexander-Arnold to Gerrard in terms of ability – they’re both in the very top bracket of Reds players in Premier League history – it’s more that it was the sort of moment and the sort of game that invariably leads people to ponder whether he should be playing in midfield.
And this apparent desire from Klopp to change the system – to play through midfield as well as down the sides – may strengthen claims for Alexander-Arnold to move into a central role, particularly if they don’t sign another midfielder before the deadline.
But that of course means their primary method of attack, which has brought such success, would suffer dramatically. There is perhaps no greater drop in quality between the first option and the backup at Liverpool – Neco Williams is good, but Alexander-Arnold is extraordinary. His absence from that right-back berth would cause far more problems than playing him in midfield would solve.
The defensive frailty remains. Dwight McNeil got the better of him on at least three occasions and he has a tendency to dive in when the ball isn’t quite there to win. It’s something Jurgen Klopp is understandably willing to accept given the huge threat he offers going forward, but it’s not the sort of defensive foible that, if remedied, will hamper those attacking pursuits. There’s no excuse for it.
There is very little difference in the football Liverpool are playing. Elliott gives their midfield a slightly greater attacking edge, but otherwise, it’s the same system and ploy as last season. At some point it won’t work and that’s when they need a plan B that has been missing for some time.
Then they might need to pick holes through midfield, but for now they need not change a thing. Because they do have a ‘heartbeat’, he just happens to play at right-back.
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22 August, 2021 - 02:30pm
Following Saturday's victory over Burnley, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp may now turn his attentions back to the transfer window.
It is just over a week until the window closes with the Reds having made just one major signing this summer.
They have won their opening two Premier League matches of the season, boosted by the return to fitness of Virgil van Dijk.
Liverpool continue to be linked with a number of big names while there is still time for current stars to leave Anfield.
And Daily Star Sport has looked at the best transfer gossip surrounding the Merseyside outfit this weekend...
Liverpool have reportedly been offered the chance to sign Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski amid reports the Pole wants to leave the Bundesliga giants.
Transfer guru Ian McGarry has claimed the Reds are one of three Premier League who have reportedly been offered Lewandowski.
He said: “Lewandowski has been offered to Liverpool, to Manchester United and to Manchester City, each of whom have expressed a tepid amount of interest in the player regarding the possibility of signing him.
“However, each of them has also said that the €110 million (£94m) which Bayern are leaking to the German media that they would require to allow Lewandowski to leave is far too much for a player of that age.”
Xherdan Shaqiri's Liverpool career looks like it's coming to an end with Lyon interested in the Swiss star.
Shaqiri has not been involved in Jurgen Klopp's Premier League squad for either of the opening two games.
And Lyon boss Peter Bosz added some fuel to the fire ahead of the weekend when asked about potential transfers.
“If we can recruit a good player, we will, but I can’t say anything,” Bosz was quoted as saying, by RMC Sport.
Virgil van Dijk missed most of last season and Jurgen Klopp has hinted he could be set for spells on the sidelines this campaign.
Klopp strengthened the Liverpool defence this summer with the signing of Ibrahima Konate.
And the boss said: "We now have six centre-halves with Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips and we needed that. They will all play because the first four, we have to mix it up.
"After a long injury you should not play three games a week, all that stuff. But I didn’t have a chance to change for Burnley because they have a specific threat and I needed defenders who are used to playing together."
22 August, 2021 - 02:30pm
The defender was thrilled to have a full crowd at Anfield once again for Liverpool’s victory over Burnley.
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After two matches in front of full crowds to start the new Premier League campaign, it’s clear that players are just as thrilled to see fans in the stands as the fans are to be back. Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk explained how happy he and his teammates were to have supporters back in his post-match interview with Liverpool FC’s website.
“Even an early kick-off, to see all the fans back is a big buzz. We all enjoy it,” said Van Dijk.
“It’s something that hopefully is going to be normal again because we need the fans – whether it’s at home games but also the away games, we need the atmosphere of fans. We’ve seen how football is, it belongs to the fans, with the fans. I’m just glad everyone is back.”
As for the team’s performance against Burnley, van Dijk acknowledges that there are still some things the squad can improve on, but it’s hard to fuss too much with six points taken and zero goals conceded in two matches.
“Obviously to win the first two games with no goals conceded is just a good thing, something to build on,” Van Dijk said. “We’re not there yet, we feel that, but the only thing we can do is try to win the game in front of us and that’s what we did today.”
“We knew it was going to be very tough, it’s always been tough against these guys. They play a certain way, they make it very difficult for us and they did today again. A lot of physical battles, a totally different challenge to last week.
“It was good to get the clean sheet again and something to build on, good things. There are some things that should be better, but to win here today with the fans back is just great.”
22 August, 2021 - 02:30pm
This weekend was an exciting and emotional one for Kopites.
Liverpool fans packed out Anfield for the first time since March 2020 and paid tribute to Andrew Devine, the 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster.
Fans were in fine voice as Jürgen Klopp’s side cruised to a 2-0 victory.
The scoring was opened when Diogo Jota nodded home a fine Kostas Tsimikas cross.
Thereafter the hosts played some champagne football but the lead wasn’t doubled until the second half when Sadio Mane rounded off a fine flowing move.
The score line was kind on a typically negative and physical Burnley side.
We were without our talismanic Dutch centre back for most of last season.
The defender was ruled out in October due to Jordan Pickford’s reckless lunge in the Merseyside Derby.
The wheels inevitably came off but we weren’t just poor defensively in his absence. When Virgil van Dijk was ruled out the Liverpool attack looked toothless.
Time and again Kopites would tell rival fans that you can’t underestimate how vital Virg is to us on the front foot.
We were laughed at by the small minded with fans wondering how a centre back can be so important to the attack.
In the 69th minute of Liverpool v Burnley we saw just how important Virgil is to our offensive output.
The Dutchman raked a long pass out to Harvey Elliott and a few moments later the ball was in the net.
We saw this throughout the game with Van Dijk often pining passes out to Mo Salah.
This distribution is crucial to how we score; the midfield is by passed and we are driving at the defence in an instant.
Virgil van Dijk proved plenty of Liverpool fans right with that 69th minute pass.
22 August, 2021 - 10:07am
Speaking during the BT Sport coverage of the match, former Liverpool players Peter Crouch and Joe Cole were both in admiration of the 29-year-old Egyptian.
Crouch, who himself scored 22 times during his time playing for the red half of Merseyside, was bold in his labelling of the Liverpool striker, who is now just two goals away from joining the former England International in the Premier League's exclusive 100 club.
“(He is a) true Liverpool great. To get 100 goals in the same space of time as Henry they’re the types of players we're talking about with Mo Salah.”
The comparison to Messi, one of the best players in football history, is the ultimate for a player who has surprised many since his early days at Basel and Chelsea, with Crouch saying his variation across the front three is what sets him apart in the League.
"It’s an unbelievable record, he’s turned from a winger to become a ruthless goal scoring machine. It has been unbelievable,”
Joe Cole, another player who had a spell at Liverpool, was also a pundit for yesterday's live game and whilst he didn't agree on Crouch's comparison, he joined the ex-Tottenham striker with more compliments for Salah, he said: "Do you know what I love about him? He’s so direct, he gets at players, no one’s like Messi but there’s an element to his game his left foot. So well balanced. Wonderful player.”
Liverpool fans will be hoping Salah can continue his consistent vain of form as they face title contenders Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in round three of the 2021/22 Premier League fixtures next week.