Burnley 0-1 Liverpool (Fabinho 40′)
TURF MOOR — Jurgen Klopp saw his Liverpool side avoid a “banana skin” at Turf Moor thanks to another telling goal contribution from Fabinho.
With so much focus on Sadio Mane, recalled ahead of schedule for this game, and Mo Salah in 2022 due to their absence at the Africa Cup of Nations, Fabinho’s efforts have almost gone unnoticed.
But as Burnley squandered a string of chances, particularly in the first half, it was left to the Brazilian midfielder to claim the game’s only goal – his fifth in his last seven appearances – five minutes before the interval.
“It was a perfect afternoon and 1-0 a perfect result,” Klopp said.
“It was raining and windy and I think only if you stood on the pitch could you really feel the whole extent of it.
“Where we were in front of the stand it didn’t feel bad but on the pitch it was ridiculous. So everything today was set up to be a banana skin for us.
“But Fab was great. He probably would have scored much more goals for Liverpool if I had put him in the box in offensive set-pieces, I only did that recently and since then he scores.”
Klopp’s men still have a game in hand and a visit to the Etihad to come – adding at least a small degree of tension to the title race.
And they had to show plenty of mental strength to escape with a victory against a struggling Burnley side fighting for their lives and wasting a host of chances.
It took until the 40th minute of a game played in appalling conditions for Liverpool to make their quality count although their relegation-threatened hosts had been presented with chances before Fabinho struck.
The best came from a 22nd minute counter-attack, sparked by Wout Weghorst’s clumsy challenge on Salah in the Burnley area – one which was later looked at by the VAR who ruled out a Liverpool penalty.
But Burnley broke upfield. Ashley Westwood found Jay Rodriguez who played Weghorst clean through only for the Dutchman’s poor effort to chip Alisson to be cleared by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
It was one of a number of occasions when Alisson was placed under pressure by Burnley’s accurate long ball game.
But at the other end of the field, Nick Pope was also busy, and finally beaten five minutes before the break.
Alexander-Arnold’s corner was held on by Sadio Mane and after Fabinho’s first effort was blocked by Pope, the midfielder netted the rebound himself.
Dyche: ‘This gave us something to build on’
Despite their recent woes, and a run of 11 league games without a win, Burnley at least gave a good account of themselves.
Alisson saved an early Josh Brownhill effort with a diving two-handed stop and, later, Connor Roberts’ well-judged ball played Weghorst through only for the striker to hit a first-time effort wide.
Liverpool, inevitably, carved out more than their fair share of decent chances with Naby Keita’s 20-yard shot being well saved by Pope after 21 minutes.
And an Alexander-Arnold free-kick was met on the volley by Mane, starting his first game in six weeks after being away on international duty, although the Senegal striker could only steer it straight at Pope.
Burnley, at least, showed no sign of capitulating despite falling behind and Ben Mee headed a Maxwel Cornet corner wide room after the restart.
Weghorst, in one of his last actions before limping off injured, also connected with a 20-yard shot that Alisson presented with a routine catch.
Liverpool looked well in control, without really testing Pope in the Burnley goal, although Mee almost turned the ball into his own net after 80 minutes in attempting to deal with an Alexander-Arnold cross.
“Once again, we’ve played a very good side, created chances and not taken them,” Dyche said. “That’s the next step. It has to come and has to come quickly but, equally, there has to be something to build on and I believe there is.”
- Pope 7
- Roberts 7
- Tarkowski 7
- Mee 7
- Peters 6
- Lennon 5
- Westwood 6
- brown hill 7
- horn 6
- rodriguez 5
- Weghorst 5
- Alison 8
- Alexander-Arnold 7
- Matip 6
- Van Dijk 9
- Robertson 7
- Henderson 6
- fabinho 8
- Keita 6
- Salah 7
- Firmine 7
- hand 7
Analysis: A key few weeks coming up in the title race
By Daniel Storey, i chief football writer
It says plenty about the standards that Manchester City set that Liverpool have taken 32 points from a possible 39 in the league – losing only eleven – and yet don’t really feel like serious title challengers. But Jurgen Klopp clearly hasn’t given up yet and nor have his team from him. On a beastly, windy, cold day in Burnley, they scored a scrappy goal and then resisted the pressure that inevitably came their way.
One surprising aspect of Liverpool’s recent weeks is the rise of Fabinho as a goalscorer. The Brazilian has five goals in 2022 including the winner on Sunday. All have come from set-piece situations; he either challenges for a header or has a clever knack of holding his run and being in the perfect position for a scruffy knockdown.
Finally, Liverpool really do have a chance closer to City over the next few weeks. While they have three home league games to come, the leaders face Tottenham and Manchester United at home and Everton away.
This is an extract from The Score, Daniel Storey’s weekly verdict on all 20 Premier League teams’ performances. Sign up to receive the newsletter on Monday mornings here