- Harvey Elliott came off the Liverpool bench to record two assists in the second half.
- Jurgen Klopp hails new stretch of Anfield Road as ‘outrageously wonderful’
- CHRIS SUTTON on sledging, rude confrontations and verbal jousting on the field – Podcast Everything is beginning
For all the talk of Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland making Manchester City impregnable, Liverpool are optimistic about the strength of their own team.
Without key players Mohamed Salah and Alisson, Jurgen Klopp’s side got the job done in front of Anfield’s league-record crowd, even as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury left them without a recognized right-back for the second half.
Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo have all scored critical goals off the bench this season and on Saturday it was another substitute, Harvey Elliott, who made the difference with two game-winning assists after his introduction at half-time.
Elliott has started 25 Premier League games for Liverpool and has been a substitute in 35. It’s not the ratio an ambitious 20-year-old would want, but captain Virgil van Dijk stressed the need for the entire team to contribute if Liverpool want to give Klopp a chance. Goodbye Premier League title.
“I’m sure Harvey would love to play every week, but at the highest level you have to be patient and take advantage of the moments when you have them,” Van Dijk said.
Harvey Elliott has put in numerous good performances for Liverpool so far this season.
Virgil van Dijk urged his teammate to be patient and take advantage of every opportunity that comes his way
Jurgen Klopp said the Liverpool faithful were “really loud at the right times” as his team beat Burnley.
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‘You have to move on. Don’t get frustrated by not starting sometimes, it’s part of the business. When you have opportunities, you have to perform and that is what Harvey has done in this case.
‘The substitutes have had a big impact for us in games this season and this was another clear example. That should definitely be the case in the future as well.”
Although Burnley looked like a fairly easy game on paper, Klopp knew the potential dangers and was even more animated than usual on the touchline.
The late withdrawals of Alisson and Joe Gomez due to flu added to the Liverpool lineup feeling patched with Salah, Joel Matip and Dominik Szoboszlai injured, Ibrahima Konate suspended and Conor Bradley unavailable following the death of his father.
Nerves were frayed when Dara O’Shea’s header canceled out Diogo Jota’s opener and Alexander-Arnold did not return after the break due to knee discomfort, forcing Klopp to send on Elliott (right) and replace Curtis Jones at right back. the first time in his career.
Elliott did enough in 45 minutes to be man of the match. He brought energy to the right flank and delivered crosses for Díaz and Núñez to score and maintain Liverpool’s two-point lead at the top. It was great theater in front of 59,896 people, eclipsing the previous biggest attendance dating back to 1949 when the upper level of the Anfield Road stand opened.
“Outrageously wonderful,” is how Klopp described it. “It was very loud at the right times.”
Reds boss Klopp hailed Liverpool’s new Anfield Road stand as ‘outrageously wonderful’
With City yet to travel to Anfield this season, that atmosphere could be that of the 12th man. Burnley coach Vincent Kompany acknowledged: “He is a crowd with a lot of history and passion for the team.” That’s always difficult.’
Emotions were running high with both coaches booked for protesting: Klopp when Jota was not awarded a penalty, Kompany for claiming a foul on Aaron Ramsey in the build-up to Liverpool’s second goal.
With Andy Robertson starting his first game since October, Kostas Tsimikas also coming off the bench and Salah and Bradley returning to training next week, Liverpool will be strengthened, particularly if Alexander-Arnold’s problem is as minor as expected.
City are praised for the strength of their bench, with De Bruyne and Jack Grealish coming on at the weekend, but there is no inferiority complex at Anfield. “I have been very impressed by the players who have arrived,” Van Dijk added. “It’s important that the boys take advantage of their moments and they are doing it.”
For Burnley, the common bottom team, things are not easier despite their undertaking. The next rival for them is Arsenal.