This article was originally posted here.
Questions remain about Liverpool’s performances against lesser teams despite Sunday’s win over Burnley, but I could tell from talking to Jurgen Klopp how important the result was to him.
I was at Anfield for Match of the Day 2 and the Reds manager came to speak to us on the show after the game.
He called it an ‘ugly win’, and he was exactly right, and he was also correct that it was a very good sign.
I could tell from Klopp’s entire demeanour that he saw it as a massive result in his side’s season, and it was fascinating to talk to him about how he thought his side played.
When he answers your questions, he gives you everything. He kind of looks at you as if to say ‘well you have watched the game anyway, so I am not going to come out with any rubbish’.
I think that is why football fans like to listen to him – I do. He does not just talk openly, he is convincing when he explains things too.
‘Liverpool unhinged and could not impose themselves’
I said before Sunday’s game that I thought it held huge significance for Liverpool’s bid to finish in the top four, even more so than last week’s win over Arsenal.
Klopp’s side started 2017 so badly and suffered some poor defeats against teams from the bottom half of the table. It was vital that did not happen again.
Going back further, we saw in August when the Reds lost at Turf Moor how they struggle to break down teams even when they dominate possession.
I was expecting this game to follow a similar pattern, but Burnley did far more than just defend in numbers.
This game was completely different to what happened at Turf Moor because this time Burnley caused Liverpool lots of problems too, especially in the first half and not just on the break.
When the Clarets were on the ball they looked more dangerous and that was in terms of territory, because they saw more of the ball than Liverpool in the right areas.
It looked like they targeted the little corridor between Liverpool’s left-sided centre-half Ragnar Klavan and their left-back James Milner, and it seriously worked.
It unhinged Liverpool for the first 20 to 25 minutes and, even after that, the Reds did not impose themselves on the game or get their short passing going.
Burnley were playing with two centre-forwards to stop Liverpool building from the back. It meant they were playing more long balls instead, and Michael Keane and Ben Mee can deal with those all day.
The home crowd were getting frustrated because Burnley’s gameplan was working. When Georginio Wijnaldum equalised in first-half injury-time, it was with Liverpool’s first shot on target.
‘Liverpool’s squad limits Klopp’s options’
There was no dramatic difference in Liverpool’s play in the second half either – yes, they were better, but that wasn’t difficult.
Any improvement was minimal – they just found a way to pinch the win despite a poor performance. They had to, really.
Divock Origi started up front, which is his best position, but he had a bad day and Klopp did not have many attacking alternatives on the bench – just youngsters in Ben Woodburn and Harry Wilson.
Klopp gets criticised for not having a ‘Plan B’ but part of that is down to a lack of options. At 1-1 he brought on Woodburn for Philippe Coutinho, which shows he is not afraid to change things if they are not working.
Coutinho is Liverpool’s best player when he is on form but he was another one having an off day so Klopp gave a kid a chance.
That shows how limited Liverpool’s squad is, when you compare it to the rest of the top six. On Wednesday night, for example, Manchester City brought on David Silva in the second half to try to change the game in their draw against Stoke.
Yes, Emre Can scored from long range seconds after Woodburn came on but that does not hide the fact that the Liverpool bench on Sunday was short of the experience they need.
‘This can be a launchpad for the rest of Liverpool’s season’
Beforehand I saw this game as the launchpad for the rest of Liverpool’s season. The result still means it might be.
That is the big positive, but the worry would be that they have still not shown that they are capable of rolling any of the lower teams over.
Their next game, away at Manchester City next Sunday, is obviously important as well.
But it is against another top team, and we know what they are like against those sides – they have not lost against anyone else in the top six all season.
Mark Lawrenson was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.