A Gray day for Klopp!
Liverpool shocked by newcomers against odds
(Vokes 2, Gray 37)
Burnley burst Liverpool’s early-season bubble with a victory which proved you do not need to have much of the ball to be effective.
The Clarets converted two of their three shots on target, with Sam Vokes grabbing his first Premier League goal inside two minutes and Andre Gray doubling the lead before halftime.
There was no rousing comeback from Liverpool like the one they produced last weekend at Arsenal to win 4-3 after going behind and, despite dominating possession, they never looked like scoring.
That was partly down to their hosts’ dogged determination to hold onto their lead, but largely due to a lack of cohesion and penetration in the final third from Liverpool.
Juergen Klopp’s side were laboured in their build-up, particularly in the first half, and careless and wasteful in possession.
They were punished after only 98 seconds when Ragnar Klavan’s cross-field pass posed some difficulty for Nathaniel Clyne and he gave the ball away, with Gray quick to pick out Vokes who turned to smash home from the edge of the penalty area.
The Wales international missed the first half of Burnley’s previous topflight campaign with a knee injury which hampered his progress when he eventually came back but, after a confidence-boosting Euro 2016, the big striker took Burnley’s first goal in the Premier League goal against the Reds — and their first in the league in six matches — very well.
Liverpool proceeded to huff and puff through midfield into the final third with little energy or dynamism and even less reward.
Striker Daniel Sturridge, making his first appearance after a hip injury ruled him out last weekend, played in a predominantly right-sided forward role and did not get his first sight of goal until the half-hour mark, when he drilled wide of the far post from the inside-right channel.
The England international’s next contribution seven minutes before the break was more devastating but for all the wrong reasons as he lost possession on the edge of Burnley’s penalty area.
However, he was not solely to blame as Klavan missed his challenge on the charging Steven Defour, the Claret’s club-record signing making his debut, and Gray easily skipped past weak tackles from Dejan Lovren and the recovering Klavan to stroke a cool shot past Mignolet.
The last time Burnley scored more than one against Liverpool was in 1973 — a run of 20 matches — but they are a different team now and it was no more than they deserved.
James Milner, in for the under-fire Alberto Moreno, did not look at all comfortable as a stand-in left-back but the problems were further upfield where an ineffective midfield did not make the most of possession.
Burnley, by contrast, were more efficient and clinical with the ball and patient, tenacious and committed without it — which was most of the time.
The statistics showed Liverpool have 81 per cent possession and attempted 24 shots but with only five on target and none which really troubled Tom Heaton.
Sean Dyche’s side are up and running with their first points of the season.
For Klopp it is back to the drawing board.