HALF TIME: Liverpool 0-0 Burnley
The whistle goes for the break. Klopp runs off down the tunnel, then turns back. There’s a stramash on the field! Fabinho and Barnes have come together under a high ball. Barnes goes down. Robertson isn’t happy. This one’s going to VAR, despite the half being over!
45 min +1: The ball’s tapped to the right by Thiago. A wee bit too much on it. Alexander-Arnold aims for the top right. He just about finds the top right of the Anfield Road Stand.
45 min: Mane is clipped to the floor by Brownhill, on the left-hand edge of the Burnley D. A free kick in a dangerous position. Liverpool have one added minute in which to take it.
44 min: Mee, the last man, takes an absurd fresh-air swipe at a simple ball – think Gerry Young in the 1966 FA Cup final, kids! – allowing Origi to race clear. He’s one on one with Pope! He reaches the edge of the box and powerfully sidefoots past the keeper … but his rising shot, meant for the top right, caroms off the junction of post and bar! Pope claims the rebound with a smile.
42 min: Liverpool have enjoyed 90 percent possession during the last ten minutes. Much good it’s done them. Origi dinks a cross from the right towards Mane, who is caught offside. Origi should have taken a shot himself; his decision making has been very poor so far.
40 min: Alexander-Arnold drops a shoulder and shoots from a tight angle on the right. Taylor blocks and deflects out for a corner. Nothing comes of that.
39 min: Robertson is sent into the Burnley box on the left. He tries to beat Pope at his near post with pace, but the keeper stands firm. Then Barnes is booked for scything through the back of Thiago earlier in the move. With industrial quantities of chutzpah, he complains about the decision, but it’s as clear a yellow card as you’ll ever see.
38 min: Alexander-Arnold has a look from the best part of 30 yards. That one’s heading off towards Goodison.
35 min: Shaqiri brings Taylor down on the left wing with a forward’s challenge. He walks off shaking his head. The resulting free kick finds Brady on the right-hand corner of the box. He has a whack but it’s soft and an easy gather for Alisson.
34 min: In the Liverpool dugout, Jurgen Klopp sits back in his chair with arms tightly folded and a face on. No wonder. Liverpool have been abysmal so far.
32 min: Origi is clearly operating a shoot-on-sight policy. He has another dig from the edge of the box. It’s a vicious strike, but straight at Pope.
31 min: Alisson plays a pinpoint pass through a four-man Burnley press with the outside of his boot. Liverpool may be lacking confidence up front, but their keeper is as calm as ever.
29 min: Origi goes on a decent dribble down the middle. He’s got options either side, but shoots towards the bottom right from the edge of the D instead. It’s another easy claim for Pope.
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27 min: A Liverpool free kick to the left of the Burnley box. Robertson swings it in. There’s a load of pushing and shoving, and the whistle sounds for a foul. On the touchline, Klopp screams with great feeling, annoyed more at his players than that particular decision, I’ll be bound.
25 min: Wood scampers down the left and slips the ball to McNeil, who crosses. Wood had wheeled off to the centre, and he tries to meet the low cross, only to clip Fabinho instead. Another fine move, this time stopped by a well-positioned defender drawing a foul.
24 min: Wijnaldum and Thiago one-two in from the left. Thiago curls right towards Alexander-Arnold, who fires low and hard into the middle. Origi is waiting on the edge of the six-yard box to sweep home, but Mee hooks away sensationally. That’s a lovely move ended by some mighty fine defending.
23 min: Oxlade-Chamberlain follows Shaqiri’s lead, sending a speculative effort goalwards from 25 yards. It’s easy pickings for Pope.
21 min: A couple of corners for Liverpool out on the right. Neither are any good. But then their first shot in anger, Shaqiri bustling in from the right and sending a fierce riser towards the top right. It’s just wide, and Pope probably had it covered, but that’s better from Liverpool, who have otherwise been their usual 2021 selves so far: timid and unsure.
19 min: The first test for Matip, who sticks to Wood like glue as the Burnley striker barges down the left. The defender wins the battle and the whistle goes before Wood can carve out a shot.
18 min: McNeil and Taylor combine crisply down the left. McNeil’s eventual cross is blocked and loops harmlessly into Alisson’s arms, but Burnley are looking the more coherent side here. They’re giving as good as they’re getting. Perhaps even a little more.
16 min: Another Burnley long ball drops to Lowton, on the edge of the box. His shot is blocked, then the offside flag eventually springs up. This diktat really is absurd.
15 min: Burnley will be happy enough with this start. They’ve asked Liverpool a couple of questions, while Pope has only had to seriously intervene on one occasion so far.
13 min: Shaqiri backheels in the Burnley box and finds Wijnaldum, but Liverpool’s stand-in captain can’t sort his feet out. Burnley go up the other end and launch it high. Alisson falls over Wood in the slapstick style as he tries to claim. The ball breaks to Barnes, who shoots from the edge of the box, but Alisson has sprung up immediately and blocks brilliantly. From the ridiculous to the sublime.
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11 min: … and then the flag finally goes up for offside. This is a preposterous edict.
10 min: Wood returns the favour, only his pass is down the left, and better. Barnes is free on goal! He doesn’t have the pace, though, and Alexander-Arnold catches up, then shepherds him to the left. Barnes turns and tonks a hopeful effort goalwards from a tight angle, but it’s an easy smother for Alisson.
9 min: Barnes slips a ball down the right in the hope of releasing Wood. A better pass would have split Liverpool open, with Wood in acres, but it’s too heavy and Alisson is able to rush to the edge of his box to claim.
7 min: Nothing comes of the next corner.
6 min: Alexander-Arnold curls in from the right, forcing Tarkowski to concede a corner on the right. Mane meets the corner, his header forcing Pope into a fine reaction save. The ball pinballs around, and Pope has to tip over under pressure from Fabinho.
5 min: Origi has a speculative swipe from 25 yards and nearly clears the Anfield Road Stand.
4 min: A free kick for Burnley near the halfway line, out on the left. It’s launched into the Liverpool box. Tarkowski wins a header, but it’s directionless and allows Alexander-Arnold to clear.
3 min: The corner’s worked to the right flank. Shaqiri whips into the mixer. Fabinho wins a header, ten yards out, but can only glance it harmlessly wide. A half-chance.
2 min: Burnley are kicking towards the Kop in this first half. They quickly send the ball sailing into it, giving Liverpool the opportunity to stroke it around a bit. Mane looks to release Robertson down the left, forcing Brady to toe-poke behind for the first corner of the match.
Burnley get the ball rolling … but only after taking the knee. There’s no room for racism. Kick it out.
The teams are out! Liverpool wear their famous red, while Burnley sport third-choice neon yellow. We’ll be off after a blast of You’ll Never Walk Alone. “I think the Brummie bard best sums up my current state of mind regarding my team: ‘I have of late wherefore I know not [due to lack of activity in the transfer window to get a defender to release Fabinho back into midfield] lost all my mirth.’” What a piece of work is a fan! In this instance, it’s
Ian Copestake. As for this most excellent canopy, the air: it’s currently cold and dry after an earlier rainstorm.
Sean Dyche’s turn. “We have settled down the defensive side of things, and look more solid, but then you’re looking for that balance. We have created some chances, better chances, because that’s the key to it, it’s the quality of chance. And in some games we haven’t taken those chances. From the last nine games we’ve got 14 points, so that’s a good return after a tough start.”
Jurgen Klopp talks to BT Sport. “We play every three days, and that’s why we have to make changes. Hendo is not in the squad because he felt a little bit … it’s not serious but he couldn’t make it tonight. It will be a very intense game tonight.”
Liverpool make three changes to the side that drew 0-0 at home to Manchester United. Joel Matip returns from injury, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes into the midfield, and Divock Origi is given a rare start up front. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino drop to the bench, while captain Jordan Henderson isn’t in the squad at all. Georginio Wijnaldum is captain for the evening, at least until James Milner comes on.
Burnley make two changes to the team that went down 1-0 at West Ham. Charlie Taylor and Dwight McNeil replace Erik Pieters and Johann Gudmundsson.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago, Wijnaldum, Shaqiri, Mane, Origi.
Subs: Milner, Firmino, Salah, Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas, Phillips, Kelleher, Neco Williams.
Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Brady, Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil, Wood, Barnes.
Subs: Cork, Gudmundsson, Peacock-Farrell, Stephens, Rodriguez, Pieters, Bardsley, Vydra, Long.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).
It’s not quite do-or-die time for Liverpool. But it’s getting close. Having stumbled through a relatively benign run of fixtures, they’ll soon be facing the likes of Tottenham, West Ham, Manchester City, Leicester and Everton. So if they fancy retaining their title, not only do they need to rediscover their form, they also can’t be dropping too many more points in games they’re expected to win.
Are they expected to win against Burnley? You’d think so, yes, given the relegation-haunted Clarets have lost three of their last four, and have only scored nine goals all season. Liverpool on the other hand, for all their current travails, are still only six off Manchester United’s lead with a game in hand. But the champions haven’t won in four, and haven’t scored in three. Confidence is currently low … and they’ll surely not have forgotten that Burnley were the only team to take points off them at Anfield last season. So nothing’s certain.
Liverpool could do with a statement victory tonight. Failing that, a scrappy one would suffice, as they strain to stay on the shoulders of United, Manchester City and Leicester. Burnley are desperate for the points themselves, though, and Sean Dyche’s team aren’t the sort to lie down for the opposition. This promises to be a good contest. Kick off is at 8pm GMT. It’s on!