Yet another win to add to Liverpool’s amazing journey this season to make it 12 wins and 2 draws after 15 Premier League games… Liverpool are on a high right behind Manchester City with the best league performance in their 126-year history. Jurgen Klopp and his boys got the three points at Turf Moor thanks to a decent second-half performance and I will be having my say on the Reds’ display by providing a short tactical analysis with stats and graphics.
There was a rotated Liverpool side that played in a 4-4-2 formation against Burnley’s traditional 4-4-2. It was possible to see that, unsurprisingly, the attackers switched positions a lot during the game and Henderson was responsible for getting the initial passes from defenders to set up the play and dictate the tempo. When the Liverpool captain did that, the midfield turned out to get a diamond-like shape and Keita played in the centre of the midfield alongside James Milner whereas Shaqiri moved to the central attacking midfield position right behind Sturridge and Origi. As I mentioned, though, there were some sequences in which it was easy to see the traditional 4-4-2 by Liverpool.
Burnley started the game in a quite aggressive way pressing high up the pitch in order to block Liverpool’s passing lines and force them to play with long balls. The main idea was that they would be superior in the air and reduce Liverpool’s chances around the box. There’s also no doubt that Burnley love sliding tackles at their home and it seemed to be one of their major strategies on Wednesday night to stop the Liverpool side’s free flowing, pacey attacking game. That, somehow, resulted in Joe Gomez’s injury which will likely to cost Liverpool a lot at the back in the long term as the young in-form defender will be out for a couple of weeks to come.
Especially in the first half, Liverpool struggled to find spaces in behind the Burnley defence and had difficulties in setting up the play from the back as there were always players closing down the player on the ball. That was one of the most important reasons, that aggressive pressing and ambition, which led to an effortless Liverpool performance in attacking situations in the first half as Liverpool only had 4 shots. They managed to win more aerial duels than Burnley did but that alone couldn’t supply Liverpool with some decent chances to score in the first half.
One of the main differences in the second half was that Naby Keita’s involvement in the attacks started to increase and he made some significant contribution in Liverpool attacks with his dribbles and also quality on the ball. He linked up the play from midfield and either Sturridge or Origi was able to get most of his passes successfully to turn them into something dangerous.
Here as you can see, he dribbles and connects with the forwards to create a chance in the centre where there is a significant gap. It was not possible to see such positions throughout the first half as Burnley controlled Liverpool’s main men in the attacking third very well. After the start of the second half though, we saw that Liverpool tried their chances a lot more and managed to have 16 shots as a result.
Although Liverpool got behind after a corner goal from Jack Cork in the 54th minute, they managed to start a comeback with a Milner goal that came from the area that I tried to show in the graphic above. He was able to take his shot and got the goal that initiated Liverpool’s comeback. After the introductions of Salah and Firmino, Liverpool were getting back to their free flowing football in the opposition’s half and created many more chances compared to the first half. Salah is always good at running in behind the opposition’s defensive line no matter where he plays and he was able to deliver a couple of those runs in the second half. On the other hand, Sturridge-Origi is not a combination that has had many chances this season and it may take some time for them to build a dangerous partnership but when the likes of Firmino and Salah are on the pitch, it means a much bigger threat for the oppositions as they always play together and know each other’s capabilities in the attacking third. Their switching positions and effective performance along with Shaqiri played a significant role in the second half in unlocking the solid Burnley defence and got the three points at the end of the day.
Liverpool are still unbeaten this season after 15 Premier League games and continue to chase Guardiola’s Manchester City. As I mentioned in my previous analysis pieces, Jurgen Klopp’s men are good at winning the games even when they are not at their best this season and this has been one of the most striking talking points of the season so far for them. It will be very important to keep this momentum up for the rest of the season in order to get something out of their best start to a top-flight campaign.
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