Another frustrating home draw, this time with Burnley, demonstrated how much the suspended African’s loss is felt.
Coutinho was back, searching for form as much as possession in a deep midfield role, but the consequences of Mane’s three-game ban have already impacted. The rotation system Klopp believes essential to success was sent spinning. He made seven changes to the side that faced Sevilla in the Champions League, but Scott Arfield put Sean Dyche’s side ahead in the first half, and despite Mohamed Salah’s immediate response Liverpool were unable to get past deputy keeper Nick Pope.
Mass alterations might be necessary, but they can also be undermining. Players are seeking an understanding as much as rhythm to their game. Not surprisingly, it was Roberto Firmino and Salah – fulcrums of the side who kept their place – who provided the impetus.
Liverpool were full of combinations and tricks, but often too far from goal. They largely worked Burnley’s deputy keeper Pope from distance, snapshots keeping the 25-year-old alert.
Burnley’s game plan was predictable. Long diagonal balls were aimed towards Chris Wood, who drifted to Liverpool’s right to challenge young full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold. From such a move the visitors took a 26th-minute lead, the striker directing his header towards Liverpool’s area where Arfield was unchallenged, stroking cleanly past Simon Mignolet.
Liverpool found an extra yard in response, equalising three minutes later. This time Dyche was rueing slack defending as a simple Emre Can pass picked out Salah. Naturally it was the Egyptian’s left foot slamming past Pope.
Salah was driving Liverpool forward from the right-hand side, even if his propensity to cut inside onto his favoured left foot is in danger of making him predictable. Knowing his intentions does not make it any easier stopping him.
Burnley offered little going forward, hoping another Liverpool error would earn them an unlikely win. They could have won it, Ben Mee’s header cleared off the line by Joel Matip, and then Mignolet saving from the resulting corner.
There were only nine minutes left then, although Liverpool sub Dominic Solanke came closest to a winner when he volleyed against the bar.
Burnley could not get a point away from home for most of last season. Now they have taken five away at Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool.
Credits: The Mirror