Burnley 0-2 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp praises Darwin Nunez but are Liverpool ruthless enough?

26 December 2023 0 By Total Football News

“Liverpool, top of the league, Liverpool, Liverpool, top of the league.”

That was the chant echoing around Turf Moor at full-time on Tuesday, as Jurgen Klopp’s men ground out a 2-0 victory over Burnley to hit the summit of the Premier League.

With holders Manchester City lagging behind after last season’s Treble-winning exertions, an opportunity has opened up for the Reds – or someone else – to end Pep Guardiola’s side’s stranglehold on the trophy.

Liverpool have only lost one league game this season but will need to be more ruthless than they have been in recent games if they are to add a second Premier League medal to their collection.

With Mohamed Salah departing for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, the goalscoring burden is likely to fall on Darwin Nunez – but how much can Liverpool rely on the Uruguay striker?

The 24-year-old ended a 12-game goal drought with the opener against Burnley, the first time he has found the net for his club since 1 November.

“For Darwin it’s clear – strikers need goals,” said Klopp. “It was never in doubt from our side.

“Darwin is playing an incredibly important part for us. It’s not only about scoring as long as you win, but it was important for him and gave him a lift.”

Klopp added: “You miss chances and everybody says, ‘You missed it in the last games as well’… but it has nothing to do with the last games, who cares? That is gone.

“We could have made it easier but as long as I am at Liverpool, we never did it the easy way. Why should we start now?”

‘We should have been calmer’

When Nunez netted after only six minutes at Turf Moor, it looked like a scoreline more familiar to the neighbouring Burnley Cricket Club was on the cards.

But it took until the 90th minute for Diogo Jota to add a second goal, which rubberstamped the victory and secured top spot halfway through their season.

After a summer of upheaval in midfield, losing captain Jordan Henderson plus Fabinho, Naby Keita and James Milner, manager Klopp dubbed this side Liverpool 2.0, but they are yet to fully fire on all cylinders.

Liverpool celebrateLiverpool have lost only one Premier League game so far this season at the halfway stage

This was an important victory after draws against Manchester United and title rivals Arsenal, but they surely need to improve their finishing if they are to maintain their position until May.

Over the last three league games, Liverpool have had a total of 66 attempts at goal – including 19 against Burnley – but have managed to convert only three goals.

They have also hit the woodwork 13 times this season, two more than any other side. Salah is top scorer with 12 in the league, but will miss up to eight games when he goes to the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt in January.

Klopp said: “I wasn’t frustrated [at half-time]. It was clear we had to keep going. I was actually really happy with the game we played. We missed chances and I don’t know exactly how many in the last 10 days.

“We should have been calmer and finished the game off much earlier. I know how intense the period has been and it is all about creating and getting through it and getting results.”

Liverpool rediscovering ‘intensity’

Supporters will be dreaming about a record-equalling 20th title triumph after lifting the Premier League trophy behind closed doors at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Asked about being top of the table, Klopp jested: “Fantastic, I can barely keep my arms down.

“But 42 points is really pleasing. The first part of the season is done and it was absolutely all right. Not perfect but we cannot be more than a point away from the top of the table if Arsenal win [on Thursday]. That is in punching distance.”

Burnley remain rooted in the bottom three, five points adrift of safety, and boss Vincent Kompany said of their opponents: “It is a top team, there is no doubt.

“You play against the top sides and what is really apparent in this league is that every team at the top has a different style or idea behind it. Liverpool have different strengths to Tottenham or Arsenal or City.

“To be top in the Premier League, you have to have top players. If I think of my playing days, playing against one of the greatest sides we have had in recent history, in terms of quality the future will tell but in terms of intensity they are getting back to the levels I have known facing them as a player.”

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