By Jonathan Wilson , Aug 25, 2016
It didn’t take long for the optimism Liverpool might have felt after the opening weekend of the season to fade.
It could be argued that the Reds were unlucky to be beaten at Burnley, that when you have 26 shots to three you’re unlikely to lose the game, but the fact is that they lost, and worse, it felt like they had lost from the moment Andre Gray added the second eight minutes before half-time.
And while it might have gone down in history as the first game lost by a side in the Premier League having had at least 80 per cent possession, it’s still not the sort of result a side with ambitions of mounting a title challenge can afford.
In light of what followed, doubts emerged about the 4-3 victory away to Arsenal on the opening weekend. How good had Liverpool actually been? Yes, there was a stunning 20-minute spell after half-time when the Gunners wilted against the Reds pace (although the third goal, Philippe Coutinho’s second, was atypical—we’ll return to that), but in the first half the Reds had been poor and then stuttered late on.
WyScout / Karl Matchett
After the game, Klopp said of his team’s first-half display that they “did it at 50 per cent of being convinced about what we had to do.” His players, in a big game, couldn’t quite persuade themselves to press as high as he wanted them to press. In a big game, there lingered an innate sense of caution, a fear of leaving space behind them.
The result was that the press wasn’t compact enough, and Arsenal picked their way through the spaces. Klopp resolved that at half-time, and the problem late on—as he admitted—was an element of complacency after the fourth goal had gone in.
It’s easy to see why there was such positivity after that game. Liverpool had been brilliant for a spell, and the times when they were poor were fixable. What happened at Burnley is more concerning.
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