Back-ups Elliott, Kelleher play crucial roles for Liverpool


Liverpool restored their status as Premier League leaders on Saturday after they secured a 3-1 victory over Burnley at Anfield.

A flat early performance from the Reds saw Burnley enjoy the better share of the opening spell. However, after failing to capitalise on the hosts’ slow start, the Clarets went 1-0 down via Diogo Jota’s header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner.

Liverpool appeared to have gained control in the match after the opener, but manager Vincent Kompany’s visitors hit back just before the break with an impressive header from Dara O’Shea.

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Alexander-Arnold was substituted at half-time for Harvey Elliott and it didn’t take long for the 20-year-old to make an impact, assisting Luis Díaz who headed in from close range.

Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who was a standout player on the day, made an important stop to deny David Datro Fofana, who had a second chance moments later that he directed past the post. Díaz should have played in Darwin Núñez for what would have been a big Liverpool chance to gain a two-goal advantage, but instead Jota’s more difficult effort was saved by James Trafford.

Nuñez did, however, get his goal shortly after, with a well-placed header for Elliott’s second assist of the match.

Positives

Liverpool were bright in moments and battled well amid a flu outbreak in the camp. A strong display by Andy Robertson provided value going forward while, his missed pass to Nuñez aside, Díaz also shone. Elliott was also a standout after coming off the bench.

Negatives

A slow start saw Burnley take control of the game early on, while their goal was a poor one for Liverpool to concede. Liverpool must do better at defending set pieces. Mistakes at the back also required Kelleher to be at his best in the absence of Alisson.

Manager rating

Jürgen Klopp, 7 — Jurgen Klopp was disappointed to see the slow start his side made, but he made a number of adjustments to take control of the game, with his best one stopping the effectiveness of Burnley’s wide players. His decision to send on Elliott proved decisive, while he also got the best out of Robertson, who delivered a statement performance in his bid to reclaim the left-back position.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Caoimhin Kelleher 8 — The Republic of Ireland international prevented Burnley from taking the lead with a brave stop to deny Zeki Amdouni. He couldn’t do much about the Clarets goal, with O’Shea’s header precise in the top corner, but then made another big stop to deny Fofana in the second half. His contribution was vital in securing all three points.

DF Andy Robertson 7 — A first start in over four months after he recently returned from injury, and it was a strong performance overall. He consistently stretched the play down the left flank, and seemed to grow in confidence as the game went on. A promising return for the Scotland captain.

DF Virgil van Dijk 6 — An early error required Kelleher to save from Amdouni, and overall Van Dijk didn’t seem to be at his usual dominant best. Should have done better with his header that was straight at the goalkeeper in the second half.

DF Jarell Quansah 6 — Booked in the 20th minute following a mistimed challenge, and needed Kelleher to come to his rescue after an error allowed Fofana to have an effort at goal. Improved after that moment with a number of well-timed tackles.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold 7 — The vice-captain helped move the ball into advanced areas and displayed all of his passing range to help Liverpool begin attacks. Registered the first assist with an accurate corner for Jota’s header, but he was replaced at half-time as a precaution, which could be down to the recent flu outbreak in the Reds’ squad.

MF Wataru Endo 7 — It was straight back into action for Endo after returning from Asian Cup duty with Japan, and he put in an assured display as he provided the anchor at the base of midfield. He was required to have a lot of the ball and often made the right decision, while winning a positive number of duels in central areas.

MF Curtis Jones 6 — Jones took care of the ball and tried to get things moving in the right direction, often finding Liverpool’s forwards in advanced positions on the pitch. Played an incisive pass to Robertson in the first pass that forced a block from O’Shea.

MF Alexis Mac Allister 6 — Things didn’t quite come off in attacking areas for the Argentina international, who battled well in midfield but didn’t affect the game in the final third as much as he would have liked.

FW Luis Díaz 7 — The Colombia international had an impressive game in which he was at the heart of many of Liverpool’s best attacks, and also stood out for his work tracking back to help defend during Burnley’s spells of possession. Missed a key pass that would have put Nuñez in an excellent position to score in the second half.

FW Darwin Nuñez 7 — Nuñez found space in behind the defence with positive runs in behind, almost getting an assist for Díaz in the first half before a strong save by Trafford. Continued to impress with his movement off the ball, and finally got his reward with a technically difficult header executed to perfection to give Liverpool a two-goal cushion.

FW Diogo Jota 7 — After almost playing in Nuñez for a big chance, Jota timed his leap best moments later to head Liverpool into the lead from a corner with his fourth goal in his last four leagues games.

Substitutes (players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

Harvey Elliott (Alexander-Arnold, 45′) 8 — It wasn’t long before Elliott made his mark on the game as he produced an accurate assist by picking out Díaz at the near post with a driven cross. An all-round excellent performance, in which he secured another assist with an accurate ball to Nuñez.

Cody Gakpo (Díaz, 81′) N/R — Introduced immediately after Liverpool’s third goal, with his height and hold-up play helping his team control the game and defend set pieces.

Kostas Tsimikas (Robertson, 90’+6) N/R — The first appearance since his injury in the home Premier League game against Arsenal is a positive step forward.

James McConnell (Endo, 90’+6) N/R — The 19-year-old came on as the anchor in midfield for the final two minutes, making only his second Premier League appearance.

Bobby Clark (Mac Allister, 90’+6) N/R — A grizzled veteran by comparison, Clark made his fourth league appearance for Liverpool as a late substitute.



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