In driving rain, when the wind is blowing a gale and swirling all around, the last place you want to be is Turf Moor. These are the conditions in which Burnley thrive. Yes, Sean Dyche’s men can play some lovely football when they’re in the mood, but they seem to be a different beast when their backs are against the wall in the wind and the rain.
Liverpool were the unfortunate team who had to take Burnley on in these conditions. Jürgen Klopp’s side went to Turf Moor needing a win to keep their remote title hopes alive, and managed to emerge with a 1-0 victory, after their team full of stars rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty for 90 minutes.
There were plenty of opportunities for the home side to deal Liverpool a painful blow, but a combination of poor finishing from new signing Wout Weghorst and good goalkeeping from Alisson ensured that Liverpool’s clean sheet remained intact.
This was a difficult test that Liverpool have passed with flying colours. If they are going to reel in Manchester City and upset the odds to win the Premier League, they have to ensure that they don’t drop crucial points against teams like Burnley, who are propping up the rest of the division.
For all the attacking riches Liverpool now possess following the signing of Luis Díaz and the return of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané from the Africa Cup of Nations, it was Fabinho who popped up with the winner at Burnley. The Brazilian has been enjoying something of a hot streak of late, and his bundled finish five minutes before half-time was his fifth goal since the turn of the year.
When it comes to a title challenge, one of the most important things is to find a way of winning when you’re not at your best. This is something Liverpool mastered when they won the Premier League title by such a margin in the 2019-20 season. Indeed, the Burnley game was reminiscent of that reign of dominance — despite Burnley’s pressure at times during the match, you never felt the result was in any doubt.
Bigger tests are still to come, and it feels as though this title race will hinge on the meeting between Manchester City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on April 9th. Klopp’s men have not won a league fixture away at City since a 4-1 win in 2015, so that gives an indication of the challenge facing Liverpool ahead of that crunch showdown.
They’ll be heavily favoured in the Premier League predictions this weekend and beyond as they continue their quest to dethrone City, but it’s important that they don’t take their eye off the ball for a second. At one point, that seemed possible against Burnley, but the Reds found a way as they so often do.
“Everything was set up to be a banana skin for us,” Klopp said after the match. “The balls in the air were so tricky to defend because the wind came from all directions. We played the circumstances rather than suffered from them.
“We have to work incredibly hard and that is what the boys did. We made our shirts dirty. I am really happy because I know how difficult it is to come here. Absolutely satisfied.”