We should probably preface this discussion with a couple of things. First of all, Liverpool are Premier League Champions. That’s the most important thing and no performance from here until the rest of the season can change that. Second of all, this Liverpool team is really good and the game of football can be hard. Honestly, it’s remarkable that this team has raised our expectations to the level that they’ve been at for the last two years. Lastly, that match sucked.
The circumstances for this endeavor are less than ideal. They didn’t play for three months, it’s the middle of July, and there’s no fans in the stands. It was all but certain that Liverpool would win the title, and they have, but you cannot fault the manager, players, and fans for wanting more than the title. Wanting the points record is a reasonable desire. When you’re this good, it makes sense to want it all. Kind of like Thanos or whatever. I don’t really get that reference, I don’t watch Marvel movies. My point is that it’s totally okay for fans to be disappointed with a 1-1 draw with Burnley at home. Especially with nothing else to really play for.
It took Liverpool until the 35th match of the season to “throw away points” in a match. What I mean by that is that this is the first time this season that Liverpool have dropped points from a winning position. That’s pretty good. It’s also the first time they’ve dropped points at Anfield since Tony Blair was Prime Minister. I don’t know a lot about British politics so please don’t fact check me on that. Liverpool have been good for a really long time and I guess it makes sense that their level has dropped during a global pandemic.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had Liverpool matches that don’t have much consequence. But we still need to look into the performance.
Winners & Losers
We’ll talk about the senior players a bit later but we need to reserve some space here for how well Neco Williams and Curtis Jones played. Williams played in his unnatural position against Brighton and it showed. He picked up a yellow in the first half and got yanked at the break. Today, he got to play on the right side and he excelled. Liverpool might need to buy a few players this window, but Williams could mean that backup right back won’t be a position of need.
Then there was Jones. Jordan Henderson picked up a season ending knee injury on Wednesday. Since the restart, Liverpool have looked lackluster without the captain in the middle of the park. Fans began to wonder who would replace the intensity that Henderson brings. Well, at least for today, Jones did a very decent job of that. Probably should’ve done better with the chances he had, but I can’t fault the youngster too much.
Jokes were floating around about how hungover Robbo’s been since the team won the title. His play hasn’t been great in the last few games, but today he rectified a lot of those doubts. Without Trent Alexander-Arnold to start the game, the bulk of fullback progression needed to come from Andy and he did very well. The goal was pretty nice too, I guess.
The Front Three
#LIV 1-1 #BRN (via @StatsZone): The last time Liverpool had at least nine shots on target at Anfield and failed to win in the league was a 1-1 draw against Burnley in 2017.— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) July 11, 2020
Today was only the eighth time it’s happened since the start of 2008/09. pic.twitter.com/eo0TO7AMnT
13 shots between Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, and Roberto Firmino. 6 of those were on target. As you can see from the stat above, it’s just simply not good enough. Liverpool should probably win this game by multiple goals but their front three was off it. Firmino has one more home match left to score a goal at Anfield or he goes all season without a home goal. Rough.
What Happens Next?
The Reds have 3 matches remaining to reach the points record. That’s all that’s left to play for. Arsenal away on Wednesday. Not the toughest fixture but Liverpool will need to be at the paces to win. Chelsea at home the following Wednesday, when they finally get to lift the Premier League trophy. And they end the season away to Newcastle. Those are winnable. End the season with 3 wins and go down as the best Premier League side ever.