Firmino sparks same old question
Roberto Firmino must be wondering if he’s ever going to score a Premier League goal at Anfield again.
His latest moment of anguish arrived early in the second half, released inside the area by a fine Mohamed Salah pass.
The Brazilian scuffed his shot a little, but it was still sufficient to beat Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope – only to strike the inside of the post.
It has been like that in the top-flight at Anfield for Firmino since netting against Tottenham Hotspur way back on March 31 2019, a run of 19 games – an entire season, in other words.
Klopp dismissed fears it was becoming a psychological problem for the forward, whose strikes on the road this season have often been vital.
And Firmino’s overall performance here – his first touches, vision and pressing a joy to behold – underlined why he is so important to the function of this all-conquering Liverpool side, constantly finding space when dropping off the Burnley back line.
Indeed, he wasn’t alone in spurning a good opening, all three of the forward line perhaps wondering how they didn’t register.
Nobody does what Firmino does. Nobody in the Liverpool squad can.
But another blank will raise further questions about whether the Reds need another central attacking option to provide further firepower when it isn’t quite happening in front of goal for the Brazilian.
Internal transfers looking good
Jurgen Klopp isn’t one for Christmas presents when it comes to Premier League appearances.
And nobody could quibble at Neco Williams being given a second successive top-flight start and Curtis Jones a full league debut here.
The duo have for some time been regarded the next potential Academy breakthroughs, and having them both in the same starting line-up gave a glimpse of a possible future.
Williams, having had a tough time at left-back at Brighton in midweek, was far more comfortable in his usual role on the opposite side of the defence, a bundle of energy, tenacious in both his defending and attacking, and possessing a fine passing range.
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One crossfield switch to Andy Robertson drew applause from the home dugout, while a pirouette worthy of Zinedine Zidane bamboozled the Burnley back line.
Jones took a little longer to grow into the game, but soon his ability to see a pass helped drive the Reds forward during several delightful first-half passing moves.
He should also have added to last week’s strike against Aston Villa, shooting at Nick Pope first half and then wasteful when sent away by Mohamed Salah after the break.
Neither youngster lacks confidence – more self-belief than any sense of arrogance – and Liverpool’s style of play allows them to prosper.
Klopp’s internal transfers will be given a chance to see if they can pay off.
Fans the real big miss
Having drawn level, Burnley were no doubt steeled for a late Liverpool barrage.
Not least because the Reds were kicking towards the Kop.
But while the banners draped around the stand were familiar, the silence coming from football’s most fabled end feels no less strange than it did when Jurgen Klopp’s side first played a home game behind closed doors against Crystal Palace last month.
And this, perhaps for the first time since the season resumed, was a match when Liverpool missed their 12th man.
The loud backing of the Anfield crowd has helped the Reds salvage a victory on many an occasion, even if the role was merely to frighten the opponents into submission.
This season, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur were on the receiving end, results that maintained the early-season momentum that proved too much for Manchester City to keep pace with.
Liverpool’s supporters have played their part throughout this glorious Premier League campaign.
The sooner they are allowed back in Anfield, the sooner everyone will benefit – both on and off the field. It just isn’t the same without them.
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