MARCH 12. Write it down. March 12, 2017. The last time Liverpool played poorly and won.
They played so, so poorly. It is hard to put over how poorly they played. Poorly has a scale. Winning doesn’t. Football matches end and you get three points, one point or no points. This Liverpool side has taken all three. That’s not the beginning or the middle of it but come the end of the season, come Friday next week, that is the end of it. You don’t need to tell yourselves any stories when there are three points in the bag.
Liverpool ground the points out. It wasn’t smooth or filtered. It was face in the dirt ground out. If anything, they reconciled themselves to how poor they were too early but having done that they embraced the situation and the battle and got the result.
Liverpool’s poorest period was the first half an hour. They were a mockery of themselves, really. All of their worst characteristics came through but then they found and pushed on from a foothold, straining, scrambling up a hillock of their own creation.
At the back Liverpool were no great shakes. Ragnar Klavan and Nathaniel Clyne both struggled in and out of possession. Everything seemed to come as a surprise to Klavan. That Burnley would put the ball in the air towards him should have been no shock but seemingly it was. He lost too many battles. Clyne was dreadful in spells. Not enough of an outlet and covering cleverly either. A poor halfway house performance.
Philippe Coutinho was the poorest performer in red to the extent you wonder if he had a knock. He was at his most infuriating. Nothing stuck and he had no impact on the match. Divock Origi grafted very hard indeed but couldn’t set the game alight. Sadio Mane was always on the verge. The verge of making it happen but the verge of the game. Burnley dealt with him reasonably well. Adam Lallana worked his socks off while lacking the spring and surge of his performances against Arsenal and Tottenham. It is so strange watching the difference between his pressing and its effectiveness between those games. It is off the ball, more than anywhere else and especially where that midfield is concerned, where you see a genuine difference between Liverpool’s performances against the top six and the rest.
In truth, Liverpool’s two moments of genuine quality were the two finishes from midfielders. Gini Wijnaldum showed tons of poise and kept his head as those about them flailed. Emre Can surged forward and powerfully passed the ball unerringly into the corner. It’s a lovely goal, a throwback of a goal. A goal from 1988; Steve McMahon, Jan Molby or the like, a goal Liverpool haven’t scored enough of for years.
Can had the most mixed bag of a performance, the most microcosmic of games for the Reds, he was dreadful in patches first half but in the second he scores, has the defining contribution and scraps for absolutely everything. Fair play to him and to his side. It is easier to win when it all goes well for Liverpool, to win when you are very poor is an effort of will.
Liverpool showed will and willing. In the most mundane of ways they had other ideas than bowing to the inevitable. It wasn’t a run of the mill home win but it was a game it would have been so easy to drop points in. Liverpool had other ideas today however mediocre their feet were.
Up the awful Reds. May they stink the place out and win every game they play.