Liverpool sees familiar failings as Burnley deny Jurgen Klopp's men at Anfield
LIVERPOOL, England -- Three thoughts on Liverpool 1-1 Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
1. Familiar failings for Liverpool
Stop if you've heard this one before. Liverpool were held to another frustrating draw as Burnley grafted for a well-earned point at Anfield on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp's side had more than 70 percent possession and 35 shots but were made to pay for a first-half defensive mistake.
Scott Arfield's goal was quickly canceled out by Mohamed Salah's strike, and Liverpool are now winless in their past three. Their aims for the season could well be plunged into doubt as a result of continued schoolboy errors. Burnley, meanwhile, have registered five points from trips to Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool, proving Sean Dyche's team are no longer pushovers away from home.
It was clear that quality and inventiveness would be needed to break down Burnley, who at times opted for a back six without the ball. Liverpool were relatively untroubled for most of the game, but they always find a way to stumble in matches. It has cost them points for the second time this week, following the 2-2 draw with Sevilla in the Champions League.
Centre-backs Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip failed to deal with a cross into the box, and Chris Wood's unchallenged knockdown allowed Arfield to coolly slot into the bottom corner to give Burnley -- winless at Anfield since 1974 -- a shock lead after 27 minutes.
But Liverpool responded quickly enough to ensure panic and nervousness wouldn't set in -- temporarily, at least -- with Salah controlling Emre Can's through ball before drilling it past Nick Pope in the Burnley goal three minutes later.
Expecting a win, though, Anfield gradually became more irritated and frustrated in the second half -- much to the annoyance of Klopp, who became more agitated with the collective groans from the stands.
But it is hard to blame the supporters for the anxiety when they repeatedly see matches like this under Klopp.
This won't be the last time Liverpool dominate a match only to be undermined by shoddy defending.
2. Coutinho off-key on Anfield return
Philippe Coutinho made his first appearance of the season on Wednesday, coming off the bench in the second half against Sevilla. It was evident even during his 15-minute cameo that he was rusty after such a lack of football following his unsuccessful attempts to move to Barcelona in the transfer window. Regardless, he was thrown into the starting lineup on Saturday and continues to look off the pace.
There is no hangover from the transfer saga as far as Liverpool supporters are concerned, with Coutinho receiving a warm reception once again. If anything, he was trying too hard to repay that support, often forcing the issue too much. There were times when he tried to play through balls into a closed gap, or looked to shoot when a pass would have been more appropriate.
This was the 17th occasion when Sadio Mane has been unavailable for selection since his arrival last summer. The drop-off in Liverpool's attacking play has been a common theme in those matches, as they've won only six times without the Senegalese winger.
Coutinho was expected to shoulder the burden in the suspended Mane's absence, but it was Salah who stepped up to lead Liverpool's front line. The Brazilian, meanwhile, was hooked after 78 minutes for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Salah netted his fifth goal of the season after his club-record €50 million transfer from Roma, and he appeared the likeliest Liverpool player to create a winner.
3. Nick Pope untroubled for Burnley
A week on from making his Premier League debut, Pope made his first start in the top flight, replacing the injured Tom Heaton, who has had surgery on a dislocated shoulder. He will have far more challenging days in his career, with Liverpool testing him nowhere near enough.
The ex-Charlton Athletic man could face competition at Turf Moor in the near future -- with former Manchester United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard training with Burnley in the past few days -- but Pope did enough to suggest he can deputise while Heaton recovers. The 25-year-old's willingness to apply the dark arts to Burnley's game -- time-wasting with his goal kicks after barely 15 minutes on the clock -- was vital to the Clarets earning a point.
You could argue Pope should have done better for Salah's goal, but that could be considered harsh after a respectable performance in challenging circumstances.
His excellent save from Trent Alexander-Arnold drew applause from Klopp, while another stop, pushing the ball onto the crossbar from Dominic Solanke's header late on, proved to be a game-saving intervention.
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.