The good, the bad & Firmino’s scoring drought – Debating Liverpool 1-1 Burnley

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Liverpool were left to rue their wastefulness in front of goal as they were pegged back by Burnley at Anfield, leaving plenty to discuss post-match.

The Reds had started the clash the like a house on fire, with wave after wave of attack threatening to break the dam wall only for Burnley‘s Nick Pope and some wayward finishing to say otherwise.

Andy Robertson‘s bullet header mid-way through the first half deserved to be one which provided the platform for a victory but after Jurgen Klopp‘s side missed a flurry of chances, the visitors seized theirs.

Jay Rodriguez found the net with 20 minutes on the clock remaining to leave Liverpool desperately searching for the winner to notch their 18th league win at Anfield this season, but it never came.

Here, This Is Anfield duo Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) and Matt Ladson (@mattladson) are joined by John O’Sullivan (@NotoriousJOS) to discuss the highs and lows from Liverpool’s draw and if Roberto Firmino should be adding more goals to his game.

 

The good…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 5, 2020: Liverpool’s Curtis Jones during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOHN: Firstly, Jones, in his first Premier League start, impressed. His decision making wasn’t always impeccable, but what young players is? His confidence on the ball and proclivity to shoot often augurs well for the future. With further experience, he’s sure to be a star.

Fabinho, alongside with Naby Keita, has been the only Liverpool player to impress in every outing since the season resumed, even the car crash that was City away.

He’s something typecast as a Javier Mascherano style ball-winner – which is in no way a bad thing – but he’s so much more. His assist for Robertson, which is reminiscent to the ones he supplied for Mane against Manchester United last season and Salah against Crystal Palace a few weeks ago, highlights what a brilliant passing game the former Monaco linchpin also possesses.

That dinked, perfectly weighted, chipped pass is steadily becoming his trademark.

And speaking of Robertson, after a few dodgy showings after the season’s resumption, he was back to his barnstorming best today.

His header, which evokes memories of Sami Hyypia in his pomp, was brilliantly taken. His energy and incision up the left, traits so badly missed when he doesn’t play, was a threat all game. On another day, he would have had assists to add to his goal.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, July 11, 2020: Liverpool’s Andy Robertson (R) celebrates scoring the first goal with team-mate Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

MATT: I was fortunate to be at Anfield as part of my work for FourFourTwo magazine and it was good to be back exactly four months after my last visit for the Atletico game. It was, though, very odd and certainly not the same experience.

Strangely, I think the experience of watching from home with the artificial crowd noise creates more of a ‘spectacle’ than being inside such a quiet stadium. But one thing that was apparent was just how vocal Virgil van Dijk is, constantly shouting at the players especially early on.

Good from a player perspective was Jones, who didn’t look out of place and really looked to get involved, I thought it was a superb decision to play him and he fully took the opportunity – even if he did miss three good chances to score.

The other good, unfortunately, was Nick Pope. He’s easily England’s best goalkeeper. Just not a fan of his time-wasting tactics.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, July 11, 2020: Liverpool’s Andy Robertson (C) celebrates scoring the first goal with team-mates Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' (L) and Mohamed Salah (R) during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

JOANNA: Hard to disagree with anything the guys have said there in relation to Jones, he just oozes confidence and it was clear he wanted to be on the ball at every opportunity.

While the scoreboard clearly failed to reflect it, I thought our interplay early on was some of our best since the restart but we just lacked that final touch and, at times, a stroke of luck with the bounce of the ball.

And I don’t there is anything such as showering too much praise on Fabinho. The vision, game intelligence and ability to make the tackle and pick the pass was on show once more and it’s a welcome sight to see him hit the levels he did prior to his injury, he’s a key cog in the machine.

 

The bad…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, July 11, 2020: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is held back by Burnley's James Tarkowski but no penalty was awarded during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

JOHN: The refereeing. With all the spot-kicks awarded to Man United recently, there has been a lot of Reds fans ruing their luck with referees.

With only five league penalties this season, their qualms are understandable and five penalties should’ve been six when Robertson was upended in the box by Gudmundsson and nothing was given, nor was VAR consulted.

And Burnley almost stole a win when Gudmundsson later hit the bar, but was clearly fouled beforehand.

On an individual level, this game was another where Wijnaldum was ineffective and his recent showings – bar the Palace game – will hardly win him leverage in his contract negotiations.

Against deep defending teams, you need your midfield to step up in the creativity stakes and Wijnaldum didn’t.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, July 11, 2020: Liverpool’s Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' (R) challenges Burnley's Jay Rodriguez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

MATT: I thought we got frustrated after their equaliser and took too many wild shots, but we should have had it wrapped up way earlier than that anyway.

Jones had three chances, Salah had numerous including one superb chance, Firmino off the post… it was ‘one of them days’.

Salah is the only one of the front three who hasn’t been rested/rotated out in recent games, presumably to give him the chance to get the golden boot, but I actually think not starting him and letting him come on as sub in the final 20 minutes would increase that chance and do him a favour.

And I agree that the ref was bad, whoever he was.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, July 11, 2020: Liverpool’s Curtis Jones looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

JOANNA: It goes without saying, the finishing – most notably from Salah.

As Matt noted, we seemed to throw patience out of the window when chasing the win late on and resorted to speculative shots which allowed Burnley to time waste.

It really just was not our day in front of goal, although we could have done without the ‘offside’ decision which led to their goal as we were in fact onside – not to mention a host of other questionable calls throughout.

And I won’t lie, I’m slightly frustrated that it all means we can’t attempt to end the season with 19 home wins.

 

Bobby’s Anfield drought continues, should he be scoring more goals?

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 29, 2020: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino looks dejected during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOHN: Firmino is only ostensibly a forward, with his function more resembling that of an attacking midfielder, so to judge him through the prism of a forward is harsh.

Nevertheless, his finishing has been poor of late and he’s not immune to criticism – in a similar vein to Wijnaldum – and he, more than most, would benefit from competition.

Hopefully, Takumi Minamino can step up and ease the burden on him.

MATT: Yes, he should probably be scoring more goals, but honestly, it’s just a freak statistic from this season. In his best goalscoring season we finished fourth, this season we won the league. One of those is far more important than the other.

Bobby is the system and we’ve seen that underlined when Minamino and Origi have attempted – and especially in Origi’s case, failed – to do the job as No.9 in recent weeks.

That said, I feel he could benefit from having better backup so I really hope Minamino can kick on next season… and a winner against Chelsea for Bobby would be nice!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, June 24, 2020: Liverpool’s substitute Takumi Minamino prepares to replace Roberto Firmino during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: Both John and Matt have hit the nail on the head there, Bobby makes the team tick in a way which those who simply look at the goal and assist column cannot comprehend.

We’ve excelled at sharing the load this season with 17 different goalscorers in the top-flight, and, as ever, he has been central to our ever-evolving dynamism and his absence is felt whenever he is not on the pitch.

But that isn’t to say he isn’t capable of more or of finishing the chances which do come his way, but competition for his place and in turn a more effective rotation player, which we hope Minamino can step up to be, will no doubt benefit both him and the team.

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