A late Ashley Barnes penalty was the difference between Burnely and Liverpool at Anfield as the Premier League champions’ unbeaten run at home came screeching to a halt.
You need to go back to Crystal Palace, April 2017 to see the last time Liverpool lost at Anfield.
Lacklustre in the first half and starved of options in the second despite pressing high and hard, the Reds now find themselves well six points adrift from leaders Manchester United.
Not only that, but having played 19 games, it’s quite possible that they could be overtaken by both Spurs and Everton and find themselves back in sixth place in a matter of days.
That’s a serious fall for a side who lead the league by 13 points at this stage last season.
And while Liverpool, in my view, have always been a team to perform much better in the second half of a season than the first, they’re a side looking tired, frustrated, and short on ideas when it comes to finishing.
There will be serious analysis done of this miss, but surely Origi needed to just slip it to Mané? pic.twitter.com/d5J9R5RBC4
— Tommy Rooney (@TomasORuanaidh) January 21, 2021
The invincible aura around Liverpool has been breached, and it’s been breached since the restart of the league after the first Covid break last year.
Indeed this season, Leeds showed it on the opening day, putting three past Liverpool on home soil. Aston Villa showed it with a 7-2 thrashing of Jurgen Klopp’s side, and now Burnley have shown that you can take the game to Liverpool and come away with the points.
Injuries and defensive frailties aside, Liverpool are looking like a side burned out, and burned they were on Thursday night.
The game also marks the fourth successive league fixtures where Liverpool have failed to score and win.
Divock Origi went closest for Liverpool towards the end of the first half, his effort smashing off the crossbar though at that stage Nick Pope looked like he wouldn’t be beaten for the night.
Ashley Barnes could have set the away side ahead midway through the second half but to be flagged offside but he would get a chance to rectify his miss inside the final ten minutes.
Seeing off a challenge from Fabinho on the edge of the Liverpool box, Barnes was bundled over by Alisson, arms outstretched, and awarded the match-winning penalty (83).
His 100th career goal, three points for Burnley and a serious blow to Liverpool’s chances of retaining their league crown.
The Reds face an in-form Manchester United on Sunday in the FA Cup, at Old Trafford, before heading to Spurs on Thursday.
Come next weekend, their league fate may already be sealed.