The media commended Liverpool’s battling spirit and Jurgen Klopp’s management during the festive period after the late 2-1 win at Burnley.
The Reds kicked off the New Year with a bang after battling to a dramatic and huge three points at Turf Moor.
Burnley thought they had grabbed a point when Johann Gudmundsson’s 87th-minute header cancelled out Sadio Mane’s sensational opener.
But Ragnar Klavan made himself the unlikeliest of heroes, bundling home from Dejan Lovren’s knock-down in the dying seconds of stoppage time to send the travelling Kop wild.
It’s a fantastic win for the Reds, and Klopp will be thrilled with the efforts from his much-changed team who extended the unbeaten run to 16 games—the longest run of the German’s tenure.
Here’s how the media assessed the hard-fought victory at Turf Moor.
Reporters felt it was a crucial win for top-four hopes, and some took particular pleasure in the ironic circumstances in which victory came…
Melissa Reddy, writing for Goal, assessed the result as the sort that can prove “decisive” in the race for Champions League qualification:
“Given the exacting challenge to secure a top-four finish again this season with Arsenal and Tottenham currently outside the Champions League places with Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool behind a record-breaking Manchester City side, it is afternoons like these that become decisive.”
The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe centred on the irony of Liverpool beating Burnley at their own game:
“Centre-backs excelling and Liverpool winning with a set-piece at Burnley? These really are encouragingly changing times for Klopp.”
And the Liverpool’s Echo’s James Pearce noted the irony of the personnel involved in the dramatic winner:
“On the day that Liverpool unveiled £75 million signing Virgil van Dijk, the two centre-backs arguably most at risk of dropping down the pecking order following the Dutchman’s arrival delivered a dramatic late twist in the tale at Turf Moor.”
Journalists acknowledged the Reds were far from their best, but praised Klopp’s men for grinding out the win…
The Liverpool Echo’s Neil Jones felt it was the exact performance required, and commended the “determination and self-belief”:
“What was needed, instead, was a performance of grit, determination and self-belief. Liverpool provided it. Their quality was intermittent, but their spirit was anything but. Credit where it’s due, not many teams come here and beat Burnley.”
Reddy praised Liverpool for “showing they can dig in” when required:
“The Merseysiders have long proven they can dazzle, but they are importantly now showing they can dig in too—regardless of rotation, the exertion of a relentless schedule and the best efforts of the opposition.”
Bascombe assessed the performance was another improved showing of the Reds’ developing character:
“The dramatic finale was not in keeping in a broadly low quality game, but Liverpool have shown a different face in this festive period.
“There was less of their attacking zest, but more fortitude than recently shown in similarly arduous circumstances.”
Certain journalists praised Klopp for the way he has guided the Reds through the toughest period of the season in impressive form…
This Is Anfield’s Karl Matchett believes Klopp deserves “enormous credit” for inspiring such strong form at the most testing time of the campaign:
“The Reds head into that period on the back of three successive victories, taking 10 points in 10 days while other sides around them have dropped considerable amounts.
“It’s a tremendous run of form—and Klopp deserves enormous credit for managing it while switching up his team with regularity.”
ESPN’s Dave Usher commended Klopp for utilising his squad well throughout the gruelling period:
“It’s easy to be critical when a manager makes changes but Klopp is handling it pretty well.”
Reporters also offered alternative thoughts on the victory…
Pearce noted how the Reds have been “so much better equipped” this season thanks to improved squad depth:
“A year ago Liverpool’s season went off the rails following the turn of the year as a lack of depth was exposed. In fact prior to this contest, Klopp had won just four out of 18 matches in the month of January during his Anfield reign.
“But this time around they look so much better equipped to cope with the demands facing them. Klopp made seven changes but was also to call upon proven class.”
Matchett felt the thrown-together attacking trio stepped up in the absence of key figures:
“Players given their chance simply have to step up and find a way, somehow, however necessary, to do the job asked of them. In combining to create three or four decent openings in the second half, the new-look front line did precisely that.
“It wasn’t the free-flowing, exciting and relentless attack of Liverpool at their best, but Oxlade-Chamberlain almost scored a late effort, Solanke remained busy throughout and Mane found the net.”
However, Usher thought those given a chance to stake a claim for more regular football didn’t take the opportunity:
“It was slightly better after the break but the fringe players who were given an opportunity did not really make the most of it.”
A number of Reds received praise for their performances…
Pearce was impressed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and labelled the summer signing the “pick of the bunch”:
“Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who departed to a warm ovation from the away end late on, was the pick of the bunch as he continues to look every inch a Liverpool player. Playing on the left of the front three, the £35 million man was positive and direct throughout.”
Bascombe thought Lovren produced one of his “finest games of the season”:
“It was one of Lovren’s finest games of the season. Aside from the match-winning assist, he had admirably resisted the force of Ashley Barnes and Sam Vokes.”
Jack Austin, of the Independent, was among those who saw signs of Mane rediscovering form, and praised the Senegalese for stepping up in the absence of his usual partners:
“Mane hasn’t received the plaudits that Salah, Coutinho and Firmino have received—and rightly so, the other three have outshone him so far this season—but he looks like he is starting to find the form that made him so crucial last term.
“A goal today is exactly the sort of responsibility Klopp will want him to be showing as he rotates.”
The Mirror‘s David Maddock was impressed with Adam Lallana’s comeback performance, and assessed the returning midfielder the Reds’ “liveliest performer”:
“Interestingly, the visitors’ most lively contributor was Adam Lallana, who made his first start of the season after being sidelined with a thigh injury.
“The midfielder looked sharp, and showed his usual energy in leading Liverpool’s press, as well as a willingness to work back in defence, as one fine last ditch tackle on Scott Arfield proved.”
And Jones believes Lallana will have a big role to play for in the remainder of the campaign:
“But what a fillip to have a player of such class to come back into the fold as we head towards the business end of the campaign.
“He’ll have a big role to play for Klopp’s Reds between now and May.”