Liverpool 0-1 Burnley: Dismal Reds see unbeaten home run ended
Soccer Football – Premier League – Liverpool v Burnley – Anfield, Liverpool, Britain – January 21, 2021, Burnley’s Ashley Barnes celebrates scoring their first goal [Pool via REUTERS/Jon Super]

Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten home run was brought to an end by Burnley as Ashley Barnes netted a late penalty at Anfield.

The Reds endured another dire attacking performance, with Divock Origi failing to capitalise on a rare start with a big miss at the end of the first half.

Liverpool kept on coming in the second half and the introduction of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino brought some improvement.

But it was Burnley that found the breakthrough in the dying minutes, as Ashley Barnes drew a foul from Alisson in the area and converted a penalty.

The result leaves Liverpool six points off league-leaders Manchester United and deals a major blow to their hopes of defending the Premier League title.

Talking points:

1. Klopp’s attacking changes backfire

The release of the teams was met with widespread surprise as Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino gave up their spots in the starting XI to Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi.

Liverpool 0-1 Burnley: Dismal Reds see unbeaten home run ended
Soccer Football – Premier League – Liverpool v Burnley – Anfield, Liverpool, Britain – January 21, 2021 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp reacts [Pool via REUTERS/Peter Powell]

Jurgen Klopp cited the hectic schedule as he explained the drastic changes, but few could have blamed the Liverpool boss for ripping up his established front three based purely on form.

Ahead of the Burnley clash, Liverpool had managed just one goal in their last four Premier League games. Sadio Mane – the scorer of that goal in the 1-1 draw with West Brom – was the only member of the usual attack to keep his spot against the Clarets.

Shaqiri was one of the brighter Liverpool players in the 0-0 draw with Manchester United and moved up the pitch from central midfield to right-wing.

The Swiss international was troublesome for the Burnley defence and his nifty footwork made some inroads between the compact lines of the visitors’ 4-4-2. But Shaqiri’s introduction to the attack failed to bring the improvement Liverpool so desperately needed.

As for Origi, his night at Anfield will be remembered for one moment…

2. Origi fails to punish Mee mistake

Handed to him on a silver platter’ comes to mind.

With just minutes remaining in the first half, Ben Mee tried to play the ball back to Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope from just inside his own half.

But the centre-back skewed his pass, allowing Divock Origi to bring the ball under control and bear down on goal.

Jurgen Klopp may already have been preparing to change his half-time team talk, only for Origi’s effort to cannon back off the crossbar and into Pope’s grateful arms.

The Belgian went for both power and placement as he tried to bend the ball into the top corner. He was close, but not close enough to scoring a vital opener, and he remains without a Premier League goal this season.

Origi – like the majority of the Liverpool team – is going through a rough patch; the glaring miss – which had huge consequences – will do little for his confidence.

3. Tempers flare at half-time

After a fairly tepid 45 minutes, emotion erupted on the stroke of the half-time whistle.

Liverpool 0-1 Burnley: Dismal Reds see unbeaten home run ended
Soccer Football – Premier League – Liverpool v Burnley – Anfield, Liverpool, Britain – January 21, 2021 Burnley’s Ashley Westwood clashes with Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson after Fabinho reacted [Pool via REUTERS/Clive Brunskill]

Fabinho was booked for a coming together with Ashley Barnes, while Andy Robertson and Ashley Westwood were among the many opposing players engaged in a war of words.

Speaking of wars of words, there was no love lost between Jurgen Klopp and Sean Dyche as they were filmed having a furious exchange of words in the tunnel.

While all this was happening, referee Mike Dean was trying to keep all the players on the pitch so VAR could complete a check for Fabinho’s tussle.

Who knows whether the episode at the interval played on the minds of Liverpool’s players.

4. Pope on top at Anfield

Nick Pope was the hero as Burnley battled to a 1-1 draw at Anfield last July, and he was at his best as the Clarets frustrated Liverpool once again.

The Englishman made six saves, with the pick of the bunch arguably his reflex near-post stop to deny Mohamed Salah in the second half.

What’s so impressive about Pope are his recoveries and handling, too, as he recovers quickly from making a save to claim the ball before an onrushing forward gets there.

It was a performance which will have caught England boss Gareth Southgate’s attention.

5. Reds’ torrid run continues

Five Premier League games without a win is about as bad as things have been for Liverpool in recent years.

Even during a slightly lacklustre end to their title-winning 2019/20 season, the Reds’ longest run without a win was just two games.

Indeed, you need to go back to the 2016/17 season to find Liverpool’s last winless spell of five games, when the Reds went on a run of three draws and two losses midway through Jurgen Klopp’s first full season in charge.

And yet Liverpool and Burnley entered half-time all square, with the hosts faced with matching their torrid run from four seasons ago.

There was an improvement in the second half, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino introduced in the 57th minute and quickly causing problems.

But, astonishingly, it was the Clarets who grabbed a late winner courtesy of Ashley Barnes’ spot kick, bringing to an end Liverpool’s unbeaten run which extended back to April 2017.

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