Reds have claret in their lunchtime serving
21st August 2021, Anfield
Liverpool 2-0 Burnley
The early kick-off was no walkover, but no one expected it to be. In recent seasons, matches between Liverpool and Burnley have often gone well for the away team. Burnley have lost every Turf Moor game against Liverpool since erly-2017, while prior to kick off, Liverpool had won only two at Anfield against Burnley in the same time period. Famously, Burnley ended Liverpool’s 68-match unbeaten Anfield run in January, before Liverpool avenged that indignity in the final week of last season.
This game was overshadowed by the Coroner’s Ruling that the recently deceased Andrew Devine was the 97th official victim of the Hillsborough Disaster, as injuries he suffered in the tragedy contributed directly to his death. Furthermore, the week saw the death in Brazil of the father of Liverpool midfielder Fabinho, and the diagnosis of Reds’ 1970s star Terry McDermott with dementia.
Even so, this was a happy match in front of a first full Anfield for 528 days, and Liverpool won well, playing cultured passing football capped by two splendid goals. How Liverpool are still often overlooked as title challengers is an enigma.
Even though Burnley started strongly and rattled a post early on – it would have been disallowed for offside – the smoothness of Liverpool’s passing was already starting to tell, with captain Jordan Henderson, on his first Anfield outing since February, commanding in midfield.
A tremendous cross from Kostas Tsimikas, immensely impressive again filling in for Andy Robertson at left-back, was met with a perfect glancing header from Diogo Jota to give Liverpool the lead, and it was something of a mystery that it took so long from there to finish Burnley off. Both teams had goals correctly disallowed for offside, before Sadio Mane got his first goal of the season, volleying home gloriously at the end of a delightful move involving Virgil Van Dijk, teenage debutant Harvey Elliott (who was excellent in the face of, at times, fierce Burnley tackling), and Trent Alexander-Arnold. It was a spectacular way for Mane to chalk up his 50th Liverpool goal.
Burnley created a couple of late chances, but Van Dijk and Joel Matip were both at their best when marshalling the attacks. A fine save by Alisson Becker from Jay Rodriguez in the closing moments reminded everyone that, even when the Liverpool defence is breached, behind them is as good a shot-stopper as there is in the game.
Two games, two wins, no goals conceded. There are tougher times ahead, but are Liverpool a contender? On this evidence, certainly.
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