Liverpool were left frustrated on Saturday afternoon as they failed to beat a resolute Burnley side despite dominated the match.
The Reds peppered Nick Pope’s goal with 35 shots and enjoyed 71% possession, but they had to rely on instrumental midfielder Mo Salah to rescue a point after Scott Arfield put Burnley ahead in the first half.
Despite the number of chances they racked up, Liverpool could have lost the game had Joel Matip not brilliantly cleared Ben Mee’s headed effort off the line late on.
It’s our fault. We were dominant, fantastic attitude. We played good, were fluent with seven changes, but only one goal. – Jurgen Klopp speaking after the 1-1 draw with Burnley.
It was a story of familiar failings for Liverpool, expertly targeted by Clarets’ boss Sean Dyche, but showed again why the Reds will never win the Premier League title under Jurgen Klopp.
Struggling against direct balls
Sean Dyche admitted after the game he instructed his players to test Liverpool’s defensive resolve with long, direct balls into the penalty area and a new centre-back partnership of Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip did little to solidify a perpetually plaguing problem.
The best example of this was Scott Arfield’s opening goal.
First, Trent Alexander-Arnold fails to deal with a lofted ball into the right channel and Robbie Brady outmuscles him in the duel.
The ball floats into the centre of the pitch and the centre-backs, Matip and Klavan, are so preoccupied with Chris Wood in the middle they fail to track the danger posed by Scott Arfield lurking at the edge of the box.
There’s so much space in the box for Arfield to attack as not only are Matip and Klavan too close and messy, Andrew Robertson (circled) didn’t tuck into the backline and he’s positioned himself too wide, failing to both recognise Arfield’s threat and subsequently deal with it.
Set piece errors
As mentioned, despite their dominance, Liverpool were actually rather fortunate to pick up a point against Burnley had it not been for Matip’s goal-line clearance from Ben Mee’s header.
However, this opportunity so easily could have been prevented had Liverpool better organised their defending at set pieces.
The corner comes in and Mee (circled) has a free header at goal. There’s not one or two, but four Liverpool players all standing around ball-watching without a single one attempting to challenge Mee for the ball and he was unlucky not to score.
The same occurred just ten seconds later from a successive Burnley corner.
It’s Mee again, unchallenged at the far post, who fires his header at Simon Mignolet who makes a good save to deny him.
What’s clear is that Liverpool cannot defend set pieces.
Champions elect? Not likely
We’ve said it before and we’ll probably say it again, but it was another demonstration of Liverpool’s inability to defend.
As Mee’s corners were unsuccessfully defended, the frustration amongst the crowd grew increasingly audible, not just at Saturday’s performance, but at Jurgen Klopp’s failure to sign a defender and strengthen a clear weakness in his side.
Sean Dyche set his Burnley side out to target Liverpool’s defensive frailties with direct balls into the box and cleverly worked set piece routines. They weren’t the first to do so and won’t be the last.
Until this is addressed, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool won’t ever win a Premier League title.
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