Liverpool’s Premier League match away at Turf Moor against Burnley on Wednesday saw Jürgen Klopp make seven changes to his starting line-up. The match was the second of eight games this month, with the Reds set to face Bournemouth in the PL on Saturday, 8 December at the Vitality Stadium, followed by their Champions League group stage match 6 against S.S.C.Napoli which will take place at Anfield on Tuesday, 12 December 2018.
The Reds have yet to taste defeat in the Premier League and have garnered 39 points from 15 matches, setting a new club record. On Wednesday evening, a number of Liverpool supporters on social media were rather doom and gloom after a goalless first half at Turf Moor and a slightly erratic start from the Redmen. Nine minutes into the second half, Liverpool found themselves a 1 - 0 down, but were back on equal terms soon afterward thanks to James Milner’s clear-cut goal at 62 minutes on his 499th PL appearance. When he was asked whether the extensive changes to the side had affected the team’s style of play against the Clarets, Milner said, “I think so, but we know we should start better than what we did. But when you are playing every three days... and we won at the weekend [so] it might have been tough to get going or to refocus. That’s what December is all about: games every three days, resetting, recovering and going again and I thought the squad did well.”
Milner believes that the team definitely showed strength of character during the Burnley match considering that aside from the personnel changes, they also had to deal with the injury to Joe Gomez during the game which resulted in a formation reshuffle, followed by the opposition goal. Despite the challenges the Reds fought back in spectacular fashion, and as James says, “You can’t be tested much more than that, coming to a place like this when they are fighting for points - and the league table doesn’t say the full story of their performances this year. We knew how tough it was so to go a goal down and win a match like that is very pleasing. It shows the character in the squad again.”
Jürgen Klopp proclaimed that the win over the Clarets was a “massive” one, saying, “Last year we were here on January 1 with Ragnar Klavan [scoring the winner]. For me, at the end of the season, it was the game of the season because of doing that. This was similar. The goals were not that late but it was similar. That’s really cool. It’s obviously not our place for brilliant football but the results have been OK for a couple of years.”
On the changes he had made to the starting line-up ahead of the game and the impact of Roberto Firmino - who scored on his first touch after coming on as a substitute for Divock Origi - Klopp said, “It’s completely normal that Bobby sometimes feels a bit fresher and sometimes a bit less fresh. He is such an important player to us, if a few things don’t happen then it’s: ‘OK, what’s wrong with him?’ There’s nothing wrong with him – he’s always really focused, really in the game and stuff like that. It was nice to start the game a bit differently. Yes, we could have done better but to start differently and then you can bring on these boys.”
And it certainly is nice to know that the squad can still improve on their performance and even nicer to have strength in depth and on our bench. We will be needing all of those things in order to come out still unbeaten at the end of this busy period. Can we remain unbeaten into January? I believe we most definitely can!