Liverpool came from behind to record a 4-2 win over Burnley on Saturday, narrowing the gap on Manchester City to one point.
Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane each bagged braces as Jurgen Klopp’s Reds kept pace with champions City, rediscovering their shooting boots after the scoreless stalemate with Everton last week and ahead of a daunting trip to Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Here are our five main takeaways from the win over Burnley.
Salah didn’t score but was a nuisance
By his lofty standards, five games without a goal has to be considered a lean spell for Mohamed Salah.
However, while the Egyptian wasn’t able to add to his tally of 17 Premier League strikes in the win over the Clarets, he provided plenty of menace and invention on the right flank.
Salah created three chances during the game and it was his driving run into the box which led to Firmino’s second goal, which made it 3-1.
Salah, admittedly, looks slightly low on confidence when it comes to finishing. Only one of his five shots were on target while he was dispossessed six times during the game, more than any other player.
With Mane and Firmino among the goals there is no need for Klopp to panic but Bayern provides the perfect opportunity for Salah to reclaim his killer touch and seal the Reds’ quarter-final spot.
Mane scoring streak
There is something about playing in front of the Kop that brings out the best in Mane. Of his 16 league goals this season, only three have come away from Anfield.
He failed to find the net in recent trips to Manchester United and Everton but has been characteristically devastating during the visits of Watford and Burnley to the red half of Merseyside, scoring twice in both games.
Bayern vs Liverpool Enhanced Odds
Sadio Mane to score and Liverpool to win (in 90 minutes)
WAS 6.50, NOW 7.50*
His double against Burnley made it six games in a row in which he has scored at Anfield. He’s the fifth Liverpool player to achieve that in the Premier League era, behind Michael Owen, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah. Not bad company.
Lallana back for good?
Sunday was a reminder of what a player Adam Lallana can be.
Some have said that Liverpool have lacked that little spark of creativity in the midfield recently. Lallana is one of the players who can offer that, who can be that bridge between the ‘true’ midfielders and the attack.
As well as being good on the ball, his energy in the press was what turned the game.
“It was a brilliant thing in that moment,” Klopp said after the game, “it didn’t look really promising until Adam jumped in that situation. So well done, well deserved is all the praise for today. I’m really happy for him.”
There was an authority and confidence to the way in which Liverpool responded to the early set-back.
Ashley Westwood’s early opener, which left Alisson furious after the Brazilian keeper felt he was impeded as he tried to claim the forward’s corner, could have easily exacerbated the nerves on an already tense afternoon at Anfield.
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But, in keeping their composure, Liverpool allowed themselves a way back into the game, Firmino capitalising on indecision in the Burnley defence to equalise just 12 minutes after Westwood’s goal. Mane’s goal, just a further ten minutes later, put the Reds in the driving seat.
To cap it off, instead of panicking after Johann Berg Gudmundsson had made it 3-2 in stoppage-time, Liverpool put Burnley to bed, Daniel Sturridge teeing up Mane for the Senegalese forward’s 50th goal for the club.
It got Anfield bouncing at the final whistle and was the perfect precursor to a potentially massive week.
🤜 Bobby and Mo 🤛 pic.twitter.com/IlJBz3eBci
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 11, 2019
Old Liverpool would’ve crumbled
There can be no question that Klopp has made Liverpool more resilient. Whereas the earlier days of the German’s tenure maybe would have seen a game of this nature end 3-3 or 4-4 – enthralling but ultimately frustrating – it’s a mark of the side’s evolution that they refused to allow Burnley back into proceedings.
But with Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk marshalling the defence and a midfield three of Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana offering both energy and protection, this was a more controlled, accomplished Liverpool.
Liverpool to reach the Champions League quarter-finals, 1.90*
With Bayern in the Champions League and testing title run-in clashes with Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea to come in the next month, the Reds will need all of that character and togetherness if they’re to continue to fight on the domestic and European fronts.
*odds subject to change
Photos : PA Images
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by Tom Bodell