Liverpool ground out yet another three points, this time against Burnley, with the watching media still unsure about their title credentials.
The Merseysiders headed to Turf Moor for their Boxing Day offering, looking to improve on dropped points at home to Arsenal last time around.
Here’s how the media assessed the Reds’ win.
Liverpool may have gone top, but it was never completely convincing…
The Reds weren’t at their best, but the Daily Mail‘s Lewis Steele still felt they were good value for the win:
“On another day, Burnley might have nicked a late equaliser and punished Liverpool for their profligacy in front of goal, with the Reds missing a multitude of clear-cut chances and having two goals disallowed. But really, they were perhaps lucky to still be in the game.
“Aside from a five-minute flurry in the second half, Burnley made it painstakingly obvious why they have won just three matches this season, with the relegation-threatened team basically acting as extras in a show of shooting practice for Liverpool’s men.
“It meant that Klopp, for all his grumbles about the Christmas schedule in English football, continues his 100 per cent record of winning every match on Boxing Day with Liverpool, scoring 19 goals and conceding just one in those games.”
Will Unwin of the Guardian felt Liverpool’s lack of ruthlessness could have been an issue:
“It somehow took until the 90th minute for Liverpool to put the result beyond doubt when Diogo Jota fired into the bottom corner to send his side top amid a collection of missed chances.
“There was a chasm of quality between them and Burnley, as one further proved their credentials as title challengers while the other is set for a battle at the wrong end of the table.
“The only surprising element about Liverpool’s victory at Turf Moor, their eighth in nine trips to Burnley, was the fact the margin was not greater.
“Poor finishing, the intervention of the referee, Paul Tierney, and James Trafford’s reflexes kept things respectable.”
Shamoon Hafez of BBC Sport praised Liverpool’s resilience:
“Liverpool are top of the pile approaching the end of the year, but what should have been a canter to victory turned out to be a triumph that had to be grinded out.
“Klopp’s men had a total of 19 shots and worked Trafford into eight saves, hitting the woodwork once and having two goals disallowed.
“But they have shown a formidable resilience so far this term and Nunez’s early strike with his eighth goal of the season and Jota’s well-taken finish late on secured maximum points.”
Paul Joyce of the Times admitted that the game could have panned out differently in the end:
“In contrast, he will heap rather more importance on the sight of Darwin Núñez and Diogo Jota scoring again.
“That it required Jota to make the points safe here, embellishing his team-mate’s sixth-minute strike, would have irked his manager no end as the failure to display a ruthless, clinical streak ensured that Burnley remained with a puncher’s chance for far longer than they should.”
Jota’s return felt significant, as he displayed his finishing brilliance…
The Athletic‘s Andy Jones focused on Liverpool’s Portuguese maestro:
“He’s been missed but Diogo Jota returned with a bang to seal Liverpool’s victory.
“There have been questions in recent weeks about Liverpool’s attack, particularly after the scoreless draw with Manchester United. Absent from that game was Jota but he’s back from injury and doing what he does best.
“Liverpool needed that dead-eyed finishing from a player who had been in fine form before he sustained a muscle injury against Manchester City in late November.”
Tom Blow of the Mirror believes Jota is a key figure in the title battle:
“Liverpool needed a moment of quality to secure the points, as Jota scored from a narrow angle on his return from injury.
“The Portuguese forward will surely play a huge role in the title race… if he stays fit.”
As we head into 2024, how strong are Liverpool’s title chances?
On X, David Lynch admitted doubts over the potency of Liverpool’s attack in the title race:
“Like so many of Liverpool’s recent performances, today raised questions over whether their attack is truly good enough to win the Premier League.
“The fact is, it probably isn’t without Diogo Jota, and so it’s absolutely crucial he stays fit for the remainder of the season.”
The Independent‘s Kieran Jackson is another who thinks similar:
“It was trickier than it should have been and it is quite evident that Klopp must get his front-line firing pronto, especially with Salah’s imminent departure to the African Cup of Nations next week.
“That’s all well and good, but such profligacy in front of goal will derail their title tilt in the long-run.
“Yet for now, halfway through their Premier League season, Liverpool sit two points clear at the top of the table. And it’s over to the Gunners.”
Finally, in his talking points for This Is Anfield, Lynch said Liverpool’s inability to kill off games could be their downfall:
“Only earlier this week, Jurgen Klopp said of his Liverpool team: ‘There are things that we have to improve, especially killing games. With the amount of dominance we are showing, some of the games are too close.’
“And his point could not have been better rammed home by a first half in which the Reds took 12 shots (with eight on target) worth 1.32 xG but only had a single goal to show for it.
“Liverpool will surely struggle to keep getting away with not taking their chances, and so Klopp would perhaps be wise to subject his charges to finishing drills in the coming days.”