Neil Atkinson’s post-match review after Burnley 0 Liverpool 1 in the Premier League at Turf Moor, as The Reds won through the wind and rain…
THROUGH the wind and the rain. It has never been more apt.
There was so much rain. There was so much wind. Walking from the car to the ground was graft. They were in my heart then. “What about playing football in this?”, I said. “What about being the Liverpool manager on the sidelines in this?”, I said.
Thankfully, in Burnley’s concourse, they were serving warm benedictine, something call “Bene-n-hot” to enjoy before the game for two quid. Can we play you every week?
Post match, as the manager comes to our end and deservedly gives it the big one, I thought he’d probably enjoy that, at least for a few weeks. This ground, this football, this battle, this weather is all something he understands. Something he revels in. And he presumably doesn’t even know about the Bene-n-hot.
He deservedly gives it the big one. A few Liverpool players make a special appearance at the end there too. They’d just been through something, you know. It must be hard at the minute; they keep kicking off 12 off the pace. They start every game with their head in the hangman’s noose, but they know they can avoid him pulling the trap door.
It occurs to me that because of some policy that makes little sense, many of you may have not seen the game in the UK. It was everything you expect but more so. The wind blew harder and the rain fell heavier. For half an hour neither side could control the ball but Burnley pushed up so high for a side that sits 20th.
They thought they could get at Liverpool running through the middle, but time and again Liverpool’s line did the job. Sometimes this line didn’t get the reward of the freekick because play is allowed to continue. Regardless, Alisson Becker was on it marvellously.
Then, as the game went past its first half an hour, Liverpool started to beat the first line of Burnley’s press. Jordan Henderson occasionally had space to run into, but Naby Keita was creating space for himself with a little touch, a little roll.
Sadio Mane suddenly had some sort of light at the end of some sort of tunnel. He fired directly at Nick Pope from a set piece and kept pulling James Tarkowski into places he didn’t want to be. Liverpool were just beginning to knock on the door down his side when the goal came suddenly. Trent Alexander-Arnold swept the ball in, Mane stooped to flick and Fabinho arrived, converting at the second attempt.
In a sense that was that. In the second half Burnley built some pressure but Liverpool’s central back diamond of Alisson, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho weren’t going to be found wanting. Thiago Alcantara replaced Jordan Henderson, whose first half included a yellow card and an injury in the same incident, on the hour. Thiago was bright for 15 or so before the game ground even him down.
But that was fine. Repeatedly Liverpool nearly get in on the counter but Burnley just about manage to hold firm. Diogo Jota comes in and plays neatly with Roberto Firmino and Andy Robertson on a few occasions and the truth of the matter is Liverpool were getting little but yardage, though yardage was always going to be enough with the one-goal lead.
They pinned Burnley back in that last half hour and asked them enough questions that Dyche’s men were able to ask none of their own. A couple of balls flashed across Liverpool’s box. Maxwell Cornet looked like he could get in but actually he could get himself offside. The Liverpool line was excellent.
Keita, Fabinho and Thiago scrapped their way home. Mo Salah toiled down one flank and felt on the verge but it was all OK.
It was a dreadful game, in truth. But it was perfect. It told us yet again that Liverpool can outplay you and can outfight you and you can choose which you’d prefer. It told us that Liverpool are deadly serious all of a sudden. Four on the bounce. Certain.
This hill is huge, let’s be clear. Liverpool are coming up it, though. They heavens opened. It blew a gale but Liverpool were resplendent, the manager gave it the big one and they got what we all deserved.
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Regardless of the ball flying all over the place American Beauty like you would fully expect this Liverpool side to beat the side rooted to the bottom of the league.
Thankfully we got the job done.