???️ Liverpool 1-1 Burnley Were the visitors very organised or were the Reds just poor?

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A week of frustration for Liverpool was on Saturday rounded off with more as the Reds were held to a 1-1 draw with Sean Dyche’s Burnley at Anfield. After a week that included a tough loss at Manchester City and an exasperating Champions League draw with Sevilla, we were all hoping that we could recover and win a game that we really should be expecting to win. Except we couldn’t, and once again, the same problems are being highlighted within the Liverpool team. Watching the game from the Kop, it was clear that Burnley were very organised when it came to their game plan, but that three common, yet already highlighted issues, were still a massive problem. These problems were as follows:
  • Lack of commanding centre-back
  • Lack of leadership at the back and at set-pieces
  • Lack of ruthlessness in front of goal
I can only imagine that plenty of people have exited this article at this point, having read the list and perhaps feeling frustrated that I’m going to discuss the same things as everyone else has been doing. However, when I look back on the games we’ve played so far this season, I don’t think any have highlighted those three issues at once quite like the Burnley game did on Saturday. We’ll start with the lack of commanding centre-back. We won’t bang on for too long about how we need another centre-back in the squad. We all know that. But what stood out for me was the lack of bullying from the back 4 on Saturday. Our centre-backs won a total of 4 aerial duels in the game, while Burnley forward Chris Wood won 6. These 6 were not necessarily against Matip or Klaven, but what the stats tell us is that we do not have a commanding centre-back who can stop an opposition’s front-man from commanding in the air. The prime example of this ???lack of bullying’ from our entire back 4 is Burnley’s goal. The problem starts with Alexander-Arnold losing a header from a long ball, and then there’s a suicidal bit of ball watching from Klaven, who wanders over to compete in a duel Matip is already competing in, leaving a huge area of space vacated for Arfield to run into and latch onto the loose ball after both of our centre-backs lose the battle with Chris Wood, who gets the assist. Andrew Robertson is too wide and has not tucked inwards, leaving himself with too much to do to cover that space left by Klaven. But in two cases in the lead-up to the goal, our defenders lost aerial duels, and that isn’t good enough. Chris Wood was allowed the freedom to pretty much win every header he went for. A physical, commanding centre-back would mean that goal is prevented yesterday. And this carries through to the leadership on the field. I carry the quite unpopular opinion that Jordan Henderson is actually a good Liverpool captain. None of us hear what he is saying on the pitch and I actually think he leads the team very well for the most part. However, with or without him, there is no leadership or organisation at set-pieces. There is nobody taking charge and commanding that penalty area at a corner from a defensive standpoint. There was a period in the second half yesterday where Burnley had two corners that were carbon copies of each other. The ball was floated high to the back post, where Ben Mee had a free header on goal. The first was well-saved by Mignolet and Mee missed the target second time of asking. My question is why was this allowed to happy twice. How the hell has anyone allowed a corner to have the exact same outcome as the one immediately preceding it? It comes down to organising. Clearly Klopp has his heart set on zonal marking when it comes to defending corners, but if that’s the only defensive system we are using, why are we still so bad at it? If an opposing player has a free header in a certain ???zone’ of the penalty area, why is no one organising the second corner to then have that same zone covered? It really does boggle the mind. You know who would be good at that? That Dutch fella at Southampton… Finally, an issue we have not had to deal with much apart from this week. This game was the second case I’ve seen this week of having so many chances but not being clinical enough. It was the same story on Wednesday against Sevilla. I’m sure we’ve all heard the stats but I’ll go through them again. Liverpool had 35 attempts on goal, with just 9 of those on target. Burnley had 5 attempts on goal with 4 on target, and obviously we both scored the same amount of goals. While we need to be more clinical in front of goal, but despite having those 35 shots on goal, I don’t remember many clear cut chances where we really could’ve won the game. Obviously Solanke really should’ve scored in the final minutes with the chance where he manages to hit the crossbar, but other than that? Shots that were comfortable for the keeper, shots that blazed over the bar and even a shot from Coutinho that hit the upper tier of the Anfield road. Don’t get me wrong, going forward, we are top notch. We are scintillatingly quick and dangerous, but we need to take it up just another little notch to turn it into a world-class attacking force. As much as we love Salah, Bobby and Salah, 1 goal from 35 shots isn’t good enough against a team (no disrespect, Burnley fans) of Burnley’s level. Let’s put the week behind us and move forward, that’s all we can do. We have two very tough away games at Leicester on the run ahead this week, we need to make sure we win at least one of those. Just remember to keep the faith, Reds!   By Ben Kelly
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