“Coutinho fails to inspire wasteful Liverpool” – Three things learnt from Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
Philippe Coutinho failed to mark his first Premier League appearance of the season with a win as Sean Dyche’s dogged Burnley held Liverpool to a battling point at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors broke the deadlock against the run of play when Scott Arfield capitalised on slack defending to neatly slot into the corner.
However, the lead didn’t last long, with Mohamed Salah notching his third goal of the season when he swivelled and dispatched a shot past the dive of goalkeeper Nick Pope just a matter of minutes later.
The hosts then asserted their dominance on proceedings, coming close through Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dominic Solanke only to be denied by the individual brilliance of reserve ‘keeper Pope.
Burnley could have stolen it right at the death only to see Ben Mee’s looping header cleared from the line by Joel Matip, and the two sides had to settle for an eighth point apiece this season.
See below for three things The Boot Room learnt from a frustrating afternoon for Liverpool.
Coutinho fails in Mane’s absence
With Sadio Mane serving the first of his three-match suspension following last weekend’s clash with Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson Moraes, it signalled the return of Philippe Coutinho to the side.
The Brazilian – at the heart of so much talk this summer about a move to Barcelona – started in a deeper role in a midfield three, giving him licence to roam the final third and pull Liverpool’s strings.
Coutinho made the second-most touches of any player on the pitch during his 79-minute cameo, creating four chances for his side and having three shots himself in a performance full of industry.
Yet it was clear that it was his first time back on a football pitch for a while, with his end product wildly off the mark throughout the afternoon, and his overall display summarised Liverpool’s wastefulness.
Jurgen Klopp’s side managed 35 attempts at Anfield as they failed to break down a disciplined and stubborn Burnley, and they will desperately want to return to winning ways against Leicester City.
Have Burnley uncovered the next Tom Heaton?
When Burnley and England goalkeeper Tom Heaton went down under a high challenge against Crystal Palace last week in clear discomfort it was undeniably a worrying sight for their supporters.
The unexpected rise of Nick Pope has shocked most people, with the 25-year-old following up last weekend’s impressive performance with another inspired afternoon’s work against Liverpool’s test.
He was subject to a goalmouth siege at Anfield but he didn’t shy away from the task, making an exceptional stop to deny Dominic Solanke late on when he somehow clawed the ball onto the bar.
There’s a chance he could have done better for Mohamed Salah’s equaliser but his strong display thereafter ensured his side earnt a point, and Burnley may have found another top-class goalkeeper.
Liverpool’s defensive frailties continue to shine
In a week that saw Jurgen Klopp’s side humiliated by Manchester City and frustratingly held by Sevilla in the Champions League, they would have seen Saturday as an opportunity to get a win.
However, their infamous struggles against the so-called ‘smaller’ sides in the Premier League surfaced once again at Anfield, with Sean Dyche setting his side up perfectly to exploit the Reds’ weaknesses.
The Burnley boss admitted after the game that he encouraged his side to go direct and try and unsettle Liverpool’s frail back-line, and it was from this style of play that Chris Wood managed to force his way between Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip to create an opening for Burnley’s opener.
It’s becoming an all-too familiar pattern now that the Merseyside outfit are weak at the back, and unless they can sort this out quickly there’s a big chance they’ll fall short in a Premier League title challenge.