'The Wild West' – Klopp makes blue card jibe as Liverpool return top

Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League with a deserved 3-1 victory over Burnley in front of a record attendance at Anfield.

Manchester City had climbed above the Reds earlier on Saturday thanks to Erling Haaland’s double in a 2-0 win over Everton, but a crowd of 59,896 roared Jurgen Klopp’s side back in front by two points

But Burnley, seven points adrift of safety, gave them an almighty scare after Diogo Jota had nodded the hosts in front with Dara O’Shea powering a brilliant header in at a corner before the break.

Luis Diaz restored Liverpool’s lead early in the second half but the goal was subject to a lengthy VAR check for offside while there was also potentially a foul in the build-up on Aaron Ramsey by Alexis Mac Allister that led to Burnley manager Vincent Kompany being booked.

Chelsea loanee David Datro Fofona then missed two huge chances to bring Burnley level before Darwin Nunez steered a late header into the left corner to secure the points.

Player ratings:

Liverpool: Kelleher (7), Robertson (6), Quansah (6), Van Dijk (6), Alexander-Arnold (7), Endo (7), Mac Allister (7), Jones (7), Diaz (8), Nunez (8), Jota (8).

Subs: Elliott (8), Gakpo (n/a), Clark (n/a), McConnell (n/a), Tsimikas (n/a)/

Burnley: Trafford (5), Assignon (6), O’Shea (7), Esteve (6), Delcroix (5), Brownhill (6), Berge (6), Ramsey (6), Odobert (6), Fofana (5), Amdouni (6).

Subs: Vitinho (n/a), Bruun Larsen (n/a), Massengo (n/a).

Player of the Match: Luis Diaz

How Liverpool regained top spot

Liverpool's Darwin Nunez celebrates with Harvey Elliott after making it 3-1
Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez celebrates with Harvey Elliott after making it 3-1

Caoimhin Kelleher started in goal for Liverpool in place of the sick Alisson and produced a smart save early on with his right hand to deny Zeki Amdouni, who had burst into the area past Virgil van Dijk, amid a bright start from the visitors.

Liverpool were sluggish and sloppy yet went ahead against the run of play just after the half-hour mark. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner lured goalkeeper James Trafford off his line but he failed in his attempts to catch the delivery which allowed Jota to head into an empty net.

Team news:

  • Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson was absent due to illness and replaced by Caoimhin Kelleher. Jarell Quansah came in for the suspended Ibrahim Konate.
  • Joe Gomez was also ill so Andy Robertson made his first start since October after his shoulder issue. Wataru Endo returned from the Asia Cup to start in midfield.
  • David Datro Fofana made his first start for Burnley on loan from Chelsea with striker Lyle Foster not in the squad.
  • Maxime Esteve and Hannes Delcroix also came in for Vitinho and Hjalmar Ekdal.

That sparked the hosts into life with Diaz denied by Trafford from close range before Klopp was shown a yellow card for his protests when Jota was not awarded a penalty after going down in the box under pressure from Hannes Delcroix.

But on the stroke of half-time, Burnley grabbed the equaliser their performance deserved. Josh Brownhill’s out-swinging corner was powered into the top right corner by the head of O’Shea from 12 yards.

Burnley's Dara O'Shea scores their equaliser
Burnley’s Dara O’Shea scores their equaliser

Alexander-Arnold was subbed at half-time for Harvey Elliott although it did not affect Liverpool at the start of the second half. Diaz soon nodded in from the substitute’s low cross with Burnley wanting the goal ruled out by VAR.

Burnley, though, should have equalised when Fofana burst through and Kelleher produced a big save to deny him. The follow-up was then lashed wide by Wilson Odobert before Fofana had another golden opportunity moments later yet shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Trafford parried from Jota and Jarell Quansah volleyed narrowly wide of the left post but Burnley could not keep Liverpool out again when Nunez deftly scored with his head. He should have had a second in added time yet toe-poked straight at the goalkeeper.

Klopp: We had to be careful with Trent injury

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed Trent Alexander-Arnold injured the same knee where he recently suffered ligament damage in their 3-1 win over Burnley but he’s unsure of the severity of his issue.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp speaking to Sky Sports: “I can really imagine how Vincent Kompany is feeling right now because they did a lot of good stuff and made it really uncomfortable for us.

“But in general, besides the first 15 minutes, when we were in a rush and we played too early, they had counter-attacks and situations and that was a problem. Then we calmed it down and scored wonderful goals.

“We knew at half-time what we had to do. We were in control but we had to change Trent Alexander-Arnold and are short on defenders. Curtis Jones did incredibly well, like Harvey Elliott did when he came on.

“It was a difficult game with strange circumstances. It’s just with all the things that happened with players out, the goalkeeper stepping aside, it was the perfect afternoon – besides the Trent thing obviously.”

On Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury: “Same area in the knee. Nothing really bad but he felt it again and we have to see. We will assess it. We were made aware of it in the game so thought, ‘What can we do’ then Trent said, ‘No it’s fine’. But it’s not as he feels it so we had to be careful and take him off.”

On title race: “I know it’s every week. You add in Tottenham – who got a big win for them today. Villa play tomorrow. They are all in the mix and Arsenal.

“Two weeks ago we had the perfect squad situation. Two weeks later we are short in each area. Like, wow. It all can happen. We all need luck to get through it when you don’t have that, you have to fight through it.”

On Joe Gomez and Alisson absences: “We thought Joe Gomez would be back but he had a temperature yesterday so we had to send him home. Alisson felt unwell, couldn’t sleep or eat really so that’s not helpful.”

On his yellow card: “It was emotional, definitely. Imagine in this game the referee had a blue card available. It would have been the wild west. There were so many yellow cards today. I had no clue why Vincent Kompany got it. I lost it in that situation so fine, give me a yellow card. As long as I don’t get a blue one and have to sit somewhere for 10 minutes.”

Kompany: Performances can’t keep going unrewarded

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Burnley manager Vincent Kompany feels his side were a little unfortunate not to get anything from their game versus Liverpool.

Burnley boss Vincent Kompany speaking to Sky Sports: “It was as good as a performance as you need to have a chance of getting a result somewhere like Anfield. There were lots of positives. We will always feel disappointed about the result but the message to the team is we keep growing. Every day of the week we need to continue with that belief.

“It wasn’t just those two chances. In the first half, we had many moments where we broke and could have finished with a one-on-one so it’s the final ball and final details. They have good players too. You need a little something going your way and there was not enough of that today for us to get a result.

“I understand from Liverpool’s perspective, they are always awkward games. There is an expectation from fans to see those games off early and to have a little bit of a quiet afternoon but that’s something we can benefit from. I’ve been on the other side many times and know how awkward these things can be. We made it difficult and these types of performances can’t remain unrewarded in the future.

“It’s in moments like this that you show what you are made of. I have my eyes wide open and don’t want to hide away from toughness. We do ourselves proud and our fans proud. People can tell you what you don’t achieve in life, but they don’t say what you still can achieve.”

On his yellow card: “I’d say it’s a little bit to do with the game. I think I got booked because I should have paid attention to the fact that Jurgen Klopp got booked because then all I think the referee did was just went looking for me.

“I opened my arms out which I have done exactly that in many games. Then all of a sudden the card comes out. Out of nothing. Now I am suspended for the next game. I should have known it was just a way to balance it out and it doesn’t make sense, but hey, we have to keep going. No sulking.”

Opta Stats: Trent leads Robertson in assists race

  • Liverpool are just the third different Premier League side to win as many as 30 home games when scoring the opening goal after Arsenal in March 2004 and Manchester United in April 2001 (both 33).
  • Burnley have now lost 14 of their 18 Premier League meetings with Liverpool (W2 D2); it’s their joint-most defeats against a side in the competition along with Manchester City.
  • Burnley have now conceded 50 goals in their 24 Premier League games this season; it’s the fastest they’ve reached that total in a top-flight season since 1929-30 (also 24 games).
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold now has more Premier League assists than any other defender (58), edging one ahead of Liverpool teammate Andy Robertson (57).

Fantasy Premier League stats

Liverpool vs Burnley FPL stats

Goals Jota, Diaz, Nunez | O’Shea
Assists Alexander-Arnold, Elliott (2) | Brownhill
Bonus points Diaz (3pts), Elliott (2pts), Trafford (1pt)

Play Fantasy Premier League and see more stats here

What’s next?

Both Liverpool and Burnley are back in Premier League action next Saturday.

Liverpool travel to Brentford on February 17; kick-off 12.30pm. Meanwhile, Burnley host Arsenal at 3pm.

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