If Liverpool don’t take 3 points today, their top 4 ambitions are over. Unfortunately, they face a Burnley side who plays 19th-century soccer and loves to make things difficult for Premier League opposition. But the Reds produced a special performance and despite missing a billion chances, still managed to get a dominant 3-0 win to take control of the top-4 race going into the final game-week.
Liverpool should’ve been AT LEAST 3-0 up before the half-hour mark but some abysmal finishing has held them back so far. After missing like a dozen chances, the Reds FINALLY converted one in the 43rd minute when Roberto Firmino smartly powered Andy Robertson’s beautiful cross into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
The Reds dominated 63% of the possession in a thrilling first half but should’ve really scored more – missing at least 4-5 big chances. Liverpool started the second-half with intent and doubled their lead in the 52nd minute when Nat Phillips powered in a strong header to score his first-ever goal for the Reds.
The job was finished in the 88th minute when substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain brilliantly went past a few bodies to blast in his first goal since last July to make it 3-0!
The big win gives a huge boost to Liverpool’s top-4 chances now. Liverpool’s goal difference is +24 as compared to Leicester City’s +20 (both on same points). The Reds just need to defeat Crystal Palace at the weekend and hope Leicester don’t score like 10 goals in their own game. Right now, however, it looks like the Reds will be playing Champions League soccer next season!
Liverpool Player Ratings vs Burnley
Jurgen Klopp (8.0) –
Klopp went with his instincts and played the same team that won against Palace – something which turned out to be a great decision. He seemed to have the lads really fired up from the get-go with Liverpool producing some of their best attacking stuff in a long time!
Probably frustrated with the poor finishing in the initial phases but his half-time talk worked wonders – with Liverpool scoring 2 in the second half and not wasting as much. Subs were great as Ox scored a really good goal to seal the deal & will be proud of his side’s defensive effort in a difficult game. Just one more big win and Champions League qualification – which seemed a dream sometime back – will be achieved!
Alisson (7.5) –
Can’t Alisson get another goal here, today? Well, one can dream! But his primary job today is saving all the crosses Burnley whips into the box. Should probably have reacted better to deny Chris Wood from having a free shot on his goal in the 26th. Makes a solid save to deny McNeil’s powered attempt in the 38th. Started the second half well with a sharp save off Wood’s attempt.
Saved everything Burnley threw at him and comfortably collected all the crosses despite Burnley dirty tactics to injure him. Looks confident after last game’s heroics.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (7.5) –
Bright start from Trent – playing in a brilliant cross to set up Mane’s early chance and denied a deserved assist. Maintained a nice momentum charging forward through the game – creating some great chances with his delivery. Defensively very solid too – making 4 interceptions, 4 clearances and stopping Burnley’s crosses from his side.
Rhys Williams (7.0) –
Williams looks surprisingly up for it in this one and made a few important blocks to deny Burnley an early opener. Makes a clutch block to deny Brownhill a possible goal in the 38th. Supported Phillips really strongly, dealing well against Wood’s threat and making 8 clearances & winning 5 aerial duels to thwart off danger.
Nat Phillips (9.0) –
The gritty defender has to make best use of his physicality to deal with Burnley’s ugly route-one style today. Completely lost Wood’s presence and let him have a free shot on goal in the 26th – but thankfully Wood scuffed his shot into the side-netting. Blows a big chance in the 41st – with his instinctive shot from inside the area blasting over.
But then finally scores his first Liverpool goal in the second half – powering in a brilliant header to convert Mane’s cross. Then denies Burnley a goal in the 68th with a brilliant goal-line clearance. Big Nat turned into prime Van Dijk today with a ‘you shall not pass’ attitude.
Along with his goal, Phillips won 13 (!) duels & 9 aerials, made 9 clearances and thwarted away whatever danger Burnley posed. This was arguably his best performance of the season for LFC.
Andy Robertson (8.5) –
Robbo plays in a beautiful pass in the 2nd to send Salah away but unlucky to see him unable to convert. Makes an even better pitch-perfect low cross to set up Firmino’s opener. And gets another assist for Ox’s goal – even though that was a bit fortunate.
He played more like the Robbo of last season – charging forward with intent & creating 6 chances to go with his assists. Loved playing against Burnley’s rugged style and did a great job defensively in a very complete performance.
Gini Wijnaldum (7.5) –
Wijnaldum looks very sharp from the get-go and is smoothly moving the ball forward to help create stuff for Liverpool. Probably the most composed man on the pitch today and he actually maintained an incredible 100% passing accuracy! His pressing, defensive work and off-the-ball movement all helped Liverpool dominate the midfield battle.
Thiago (7.0) –
After a scrappy start, Thiago created a beautiful scoring chance in the 29th – only to power a shot horribly wide from yards out. That was the only bad thing he did all game. Showed impressive work-rate to tussle against Burnley’s physical midfielders – winning 7 duels! Moved the ball around beautifully all game long & helped open up spaces in Burnley’s shape with his splitting passes.
Fabinho (5.5) –
Fabinho seems a bit nervous on the ball and has given away possession multiple times in the first 15 mins. Struggled against Burnley intensely pressing him all game and lost the ball in some bad areas. Thankfully his teammates saved him and while Fabinho did improve towards the end – that was one of his sloppier performances.
Sadio Mane (6.5) –
A horrible start from Mane – missing an absolute sitter from open rage in the 3rd. Almost redeems himself with a brilliant backheel to set up a big chance for Firmino in the 15th – but sees him scuff it. Played in a perfect cross to set up Phillips goal. Much livelier in the second half after a scrappy first half & played more like the Mane of the old with his tricky movement & final delivery.
Roberto Firmino (7.5) –
Like Mane, Bobby also scuffed a big scoring chance early on and underhit an easy goal-scoring chance wide of the target in the 15th. But makes up for it with the opener – anticipating Robertson’s cross well before hitting a low shot past the Burnley keeper. Played a clever through ball to set one up for Salah in the 64th – only to see him miss.
Proactive figure in the frontline and caused a lot of problems with his movement in counter-attacks – as well as setting up some chances. Continues his bright run of form.
Mo Salah (4.0) –
The in-form Salah almost got through on goal in the 2nd minute but his shot was blocked well inside the box. But then played into a prime scoring area in the 30th but somehow blasts his shot over. How did you not score that, Mo?! Got another chance in the 50th but his snapped shot hit the side-netting.
Played through on goal in the 64th but just couldn’t poke it past the onrushing goalkeeper. Sent through on goal again in a late counter-attack but unable to score from that either. In a game that was primed for him to take control of the Golden Boot race, Salah scuffed all his chances and will probably now miss on the Golden Boot title!
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (7.0) –
Brought on after recovering from injury and repaid his manager’s faith with an excellent goal, superbly switching the ball from his right foot to left foot and powering in an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner.
James Milner (N/R) –
Helped Liverpool see the game off without any issues.
Kostas Tsimikas (N/R) –
A late substitute for Mane.
MAN OF THE MATCH
So as I already mentioned, Nat Phillips turned into prime VVD in this one. That was his best performance in a long time and definitely deserves the MOTM for the goal & helping Liverpool keep the clean sheet.