FRIDAY’S BIG HEADLINES
Burnley breach fortress Anfield
Towards the end of the game which brought Liverpool’s undefeated home record to a shuddering half after 68 matches, there was one of those moments which seems so laden with symbolism it can barely walk under the weight.
So desperate were they to get back into the game at 1-0 against Burnley, and contemplating a fourth game in a row without scoring, Liverpool started flailing around manically as goalkeeper Alisson Becker joined Jurgen Klopp’s dysfunctional attack. With Alisson still in the Burnley half, Liverpool tried to recycle possession and launch the ball forward, only for Trent Alexander-Arnold to inexplicably pass the ball straight out of play. All he could do was hold his head in his hands.
This time last year, Liverpool were still greedily compiling the most dominant start to a title campaign in history. After 19 games of 2019-20 they had won 18 and drawn none. Now the figures stand at only nine wins, seven draws and three defeats. If Tottenham and Everton win their games in hand, Liverpool will slip to sixth. Sixth!
Now, admittedly a lot has happened in the 12 months . Too much, in all honesty. And a combination of Covid, a massive spate of injuries and just the general turmoil of a delayed, compressed and now further disrupted season would be enough to knock any team sideways. But Liverpool are coping with these headwinds extremely badly. And with the way they are carrying on, the top four looks a more realistic target than retaining their title. Certainly that particular alarm bell was ringing for Jamie Carragher on Sky:
Klopp takes blame for Liverpool failings
"Liverpool are so poor going forward. They have been miles off what they have been the last few years,” he said. "At the moment it looks like the title is slipping away. Six points can still be recovered but, with form and fixtures, Liverpool might be worrying about [losing] top-four positions rather than the title. They have a lot to ponder, you can't help but wonder what has gone wrong. I can't remember a time this Liverpool team have been so out of form."
And things could yet get worse. Potentially the most damaging casualty of Liverpool’s season has been the aura which previously surrounded them. You could still detect the lingering remnants of it last weekend when Manchester United could never really seem to find the courage to fully take them on in a game they plainly could have won. But after Burnley pulled their pants down at Anfield, it has evaporated completely, leaving only a sad little dusting of residue on the brim of Jurgen Klopp's cap.
After Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford for the FA Cup game against United, Liverpool play Tottenham, West Ham, Brighton, Manchester City, Leicester City and Everton in the Premier League. Daunting is the word which springs immediately to mind. Liverpool can’t be this bad all season but by the end of February their title challenge may effectively be over.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
How did The Warm-Up manage to get past 500 words without mentioning the headline event of the night at Anfield?
Ding! Ding! Ding! Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiin the red corner, fighting out of Stuttgart, Germany, it’s Jurgen ‘The Mentality Monster’ Klopp. And in the claret corner, fighting out of Kettering, England, it’s Sean ‘The Ginger Mourinho’ Dyche!
Okay so there weren’t any punches thrown, at least that we saw, but the half-time slanging match between the two managers at Anfield was still marginally exhilarating.
Both bosses respected football’s omerta so no details were divulged of what actually went down, although The Warm-Up likes to think it was a generous debate about what sovereignty really means in a post-Brexit world.
All we got from Jurgen Klopp, seven, was that he didn’t do anything actually and it was that naughty Sean who did it all and actually he’s the one who should be punished not me. “If he's not talking about it, I will not talk about it,” said Klopp. “But I didn't start it."
Okay Jurgen, just take your five minutes in the naughty step and you can play with your toys again.
Eibar set an ‘igh bar for penalty antics
For some reason last night, when Eibar won a penalty in their Liga match against Atletico Madrid they sent goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic up to take it against Jan Oblak. He scored. They eventually lost 2-1. But that doesn’t matter, because for some reason last night, when Eibar won a penalty in their Liga match against Atletico Madrid they sent goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic up to take it against Jan Oblak.
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