Burnley 0-2 Liverpool
Premier League (19), Turf Moor
December 26, 2023
Goals: Nunez 7′, Jota 90′
Alisson Becker – 7 (out of 10)
Hopefully had a thermal layer on underneath his ‘keeper top in the first half, because he certainly didn’t do much energetic work to keep him warm.
Slightly more to do after the break but more to do with seeing out crosses and passing out – which wasn’t always totally on point from Ali – as Burnley didn’t manage a shot on target all game.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
Strolled about easily, be it centrally or down the right flank. Not too much in terms of genuine creativity but his switches of play proved useful and he burst forward past the middle third a couple of times.
Didn’t really lock down his flank second half when Odobert started having a few runs and was booked for a foul in the latter stages.
Jarell Quansah – 7
One or two big switches were overhit but otherwise was again strong, composed, showed good maturity and had no real struggles against much more experienced attackers.
Massive slide into the near post to block a dangerous cut-back with 20 left on the clock and a big slide-tackle clear on the edge of the box later on.
Virgil van Dijk – 9 – Man of the Match
Ice cold. Been about two months since he put a toe wrong, never mind a foot.
Strong in the air, made a couple of good recoveries in the 15 minutes when Burnley decided to have an attack and was his usual self playing out. Stay this way and we’ve got a chance of lots of silverware.
Joe Gomez – 7
Not like our other left-backs but you cannot fault his intent, energy or willingness to even go on the outside on his less-favoured foot.
A couple of decent balls into the box but mostly focused second half on keeping tight defensively, which he did largely well.
Wataru Endo – 7
Caught in possession once or twice but he’s undeniably a lot better now at his positional work and when to step forward and press from midfield, really aiding our approach of late in that regard.
One low shot was bottom corner-bound before being tipped away, but then he got very lucky a late wayward pass didn’t result in an equaliser. Won the ball back minutes later to set the Reds away for our killer second.
Harvey Elliott – 7
Rotated in or rewarded for good form? Either way the youngster has been decent off the bench and needed a big game from the start to show his worth for more regular minutes.
Again he was picking up the ball in clever areas and willing to strike from range, while he also teed up Salah for a big chance before the break.
Elliott also worked back to win possession several times and scored a fine near-post finish – harshly ruled out for a Salah offside.
Ryan Gravenberch – 6
Took a heavy early tackle but recovered and was good at bursting past Burnley‘s static centre mids on occasion, but his impacts on the game were again sporadic and fairly limited in end effect.
Not a huge surprise when he was subbed after the hour.
Mohamed Salah – 7
Had a clipped strike tipped over and battered a half-volley against the crossbar and over, after a slightly quiet start to the game, then also should have scored left-footed right before half time.
Much quieter second half though after half an hour or so of lots of involvement – his only real impact was to be pushed offside so that Elliott’s goal was chalked off.
Cody Gakpo – 7
Assisted the opener with a neat layoff after a good run, then had a couple of sights himself which could have been goals had he been more aggressive with his run and touch. Just so often seems half a yard behind where you want him in the box, compared to the great lightning attackers we’ve had over the past few seasons.
Rocketed in a finish which was ruled out for a Nunez foul seconds earlier. Better combinations and link play from the left side today.
Darwin Nunez – 7
Looked a man in confidence as he bent in the early opener – was actually his first in nine league games and his first away league goal since August.
Dipped wide left occasionally but mainly he was back in play as the centre-forward tonight, and while he sporadically helped the build-up and retention, Nunez never quite managed to threaten again in goal terms after his opener.
Curtis Jones (on for Gravenberch, 66′) – 6 – Neat, tidy, not hugely effective but didn’t do anything wrong either.
Dominik Szoboszlai (on for Elliott, 66′) – 5 – Somehow didn’t score at the far post from two yards. Didn’t really help us get back in control of the match flow.
Luis Diaz (on for Gakpo, 66′) – 5 – Bustled about but didn’t achieve a whole lot until he teed up Jota.
Diogo Jota (on for Nunez, 84′) – 7 – Returned from injury for a short run-out. Shot. Scored. Welcome back!
Subs not used: Kelleher, Konate, Bradley, Chambers, McConnell
Jurgen Klopp – 9
The usual rotation over Christmas games saw five changes this time and a surprisingly weak-looking midfield, from a physical rather than quality standpoint that is.
That didn’t seem to impact the flow of the fixture though as the Reds dominated with quick recycles of possession and totally bossed the first half.
A second goal going in earlier would obviously have helped but isn’t something the boss can control with the finishing touch, so the early opener was pretty much mission critical to Liverpool’s slow-but-steady approach in this game.
But with points all-important, especially on the road, taking a clean sheet and another win to send us top of the Premier League table is the only Christmas present Reds would have wanted, and Jurgen delivered.
The manager has used the full squad very effectively, keeping Liverpool looking – overall – more fresh than some other sides.