December 25, 2014

Few pundits in the football world expected Liverpool to challenge for the Premier League title this term, but things started in a positive direction for the Reds heading into Match Day 2 at Turf Moor against newly-promoted Burnley on Saturday.

This season may turn out to be the year of the manager in the Premier League with Jose Mourinho at the helm of Manchester United, Pep Guardiola guiding Manchester City and Antonio Conte patrolling the touch line at Chelsea. But while all those managers will need some time to adjust to their new clubs, Jurgen Klopp is entering his first full season at Anfield, with only a handful of new players to bed-in.

Klopp's Reds showed flashes of brilliance as well as some defencive frailties in their wild opening 4-3 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool were uncharacteristically poor in the opening half as Theo Walcott's strike just 68 seconds after failing to convert a penalty gave the hosts the lead. However, Philippe Coutinho's brilliant free kick from 30 yards out pulled the visitors level at the break before they ran out to a 4-1 lead on the strength of goals from Adam Lallana, Coutinho and new boy Sadio Mane.

"Scoring four goals is wonderful, conceding three is the opposite of that emotion," Klopp said. "We didn't start well in the game. I saw what we spoke about, but I saw we did it with 50 percent of being convinced about what we had to do.

"We changed our way of defending and we showed and told them where the spaces were, where we could go. Arsenal were better in the first half, of course, but the goal and the penalty was after we'd lost the ball. When we had good orientation, used the wings and used the width of the pitch

Despite an impressive offencive display, the defence will need to tighten up if the Reds are to take six points from their opening two fixtures. While left-back Alberto Moreno had a challenging afternoon, new centre-back Ragnar Klavan had a solid debut for his new club.

"It was a crazy game," Klavan told the Liverpool Echo. "This is one of the best leagues in the world and when your first game is against Arsenal you know it's going to be at a really high level. It was a good for me to see what the Premier League is like.

"For the spectators, it was an amazing game to watch but there were good moments and bad moments for us. Winning was special but as a centre-half, when your team concedes three goals it's never too great a day. You can't be too happy. We have to look into that and we will work on things in training for sure. There's a lot of room for improvement."

On the injury front for the Reds, striker Daniel Sturridge and winger James Milner are nearing a return. The club could be without Mane for the trip to Burnley after the forward suffered a shoulder injury in training on Wednesday.

Burnley are aiming to rebound after last week's 1-0 defeat to Swansea thanks to an 82nd-minute strike from Leroy Fer. Burnley had their chances as Ben Mee missed from close range and Swans goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was forced into a pair of spectacular saves on Sam Vokes and Dean Marney at the death.

"It was frustrating because I felt we gave a good account of ourselves," Burnley boss Sean Dyche said."The margins are tight and the details are important. We gave away a soft goal, but in the second half in particular we put in a good performance and kept a good side on the back foot."

Vokes believes the Clarets can build on a decent opening performance.

"We played with a lot of freedom and showed that we deserved to be here," he said. "We didn't look out of place at all and dominated the game but we just couldn't stick the ball in the net."

Liverpool took three points from Burnley the last time the clubs met on March 4, 2015 with a 2-0 win on goals from Sturridge and Jordan Henderson.

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