Liverpool 2 Henderson 29', Sturridge 51'
Liverpool went into the game on the back of a thrilling home victory against Manchester City and have been in excellent form domestically. West Ham, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton, and Manchester City are five tough fixtures to play in succession, but Liverpool collected an impressive thirteen points from fifteen available. With games against Swansea City, Manchester United, and Arsenal to come, this game was the midpoint in a tough Premier League schedule for Brendan Rodgers' side. Recent draws at Manchester City and Chelsea have underlined the danger Sean Dyche's side pose to the bigger sides.
Daniel Sturridge came in for Lazar Marković as Raheem Sterling moved to the right presumably to keep Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana in the same attacking midfield positions they featured in the victory over the reigning Premier League champions. Consolidating on big victories can be one of the hardest feats for a Premier League side with designs on maintaining momentum or building consistency. Liverpool's victory over Burnley was an example of a focused side managing to best an opponent that was determined not to give silly gifts away or kick their heels cursing bad lack. The midweek matches saw each team in the top seven win with varying degrees of comfort, but Liverpool are in exceptional form.
The match began with an early chance for Daniel Sturridge right from kick-off and Liverpool created a number of chances in the first half. The tempo was at the right level to force the visitors into a relatively low block, and the home side controlled the ball for much of the game. Control of the proceedings was established early on, and Daniel Sturridge combined with Raheem Sterling to release the ball for Henderson to shoot from outside the area. Tom Heaton, however, was equal to the task. It was a warning of what Liverpool could do with space for players to move into, and although Daniel Sturridge missed a number of chances in the first half and was a bit sloppy, his movement was dangerous as usual.
Liverpool took the lead through another excellent strike from Jordan Henderson. Philippe Coutinho scored two great goals in consecutive league games against Southampton and Manchester City, now it was Henderson's turn to go on a streak of his own. The Brazilian was predictably involved in the moments leading up to the goal, as he looked to find space to shoot on his right by producing a magical dribble into the box. After his shot was blocked, Henderson hammered the ball from the edge of the area past the busy Burnley goalkeeper. The Brazilian magician nearly doubled Liverpool's lead soon after with a wickedly curling shot from outside the area that flashed just wide. The chances kept coming in the first half with Coutinho at the heart of it. Liverpool's number ten later played in Daniel Sturridge for a on-on-one with Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton, but Sturridge couldn't beat the goalkeeper.
Doubling a deserved lead was always going to be a priority for Rodgers' team talk at half-time, especially as Liverpool should have finished the half at least two goals up. This Liverpool side is managing to control games, defend well, and make leads count. It was no surprise when the Premier League's in-from side found a second after a counter attack down the right, a fruitful area for Liverpool in the game, where Jordan Henderson picked out Daniel Sturridge with a lovely flighted pass for the striker to double Liverpool's advantage with his head.
There were a few troubling moments for Liverpool's defence as Burnley did not give up the fight and competed with distinction. Liverpool had to be alert to see off the game and registered an creditable clean sheet against the type of side that belongs in the Premier League. Danny Ings was full of movement and effort, Jason Shackell was determined in defence, and Tom Heaton was a reliable presence in goal who wasn't going to give away silly goals through nonsensical decision-making under pressure. Sean Dyche often plays the same side and knows exactly what he'll get from them. They have a tough run coming up, but a side that tries to play football and fights fairly is one that will hopefully be around next season.
The victory over Burnley was Liverpool's fourth league win in a row and Merseyside's finest are unbeaten in twelve Premier League matches, a feat only equalled by Manchester City and only bettered by Chelsea. Liverpool's victories haven't been accompanied by luck or turgid, unattractive football that proves to be frightfully inadequate against the first decent league side presented as opposition. Victories against Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton, and Manchester City attest to that. There may have been fortune against Southampton, but performances in the other games indicates that Liverpool can compete when the level of opposition increases.
Manchester United and Arsenal are seen as Liverpool's biggest rivals for a top four spot with slender leads over last surprise package in the title race. However, Southampton are merely two points behind Liverpool and Tottenham trail Liverpool by four points with a game in hand to be played this Saturday. There are only ten games left and Manchester United play other members of the top seven in fifty percent of those games compared with thirty percent for the other top four challengers.
Emre Can, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, and Martin Skrtel were excellent. Skrtel generally played and looked like an experienced head, Can just keeps on owning various positions on the field, Coutinho makes Liverpool tick in the final third, and Henderson displayed creativity, composure, passing range, positioning, and shooting ability befitting a midfielder entering his prime years. Another win, another clean sheet, and another display of controlling the game. Liverpool are on a roll.