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The final home game of 2023 ended in yet another defeat with Liverpool coming to the Turf and leaving with all three points with a 2-0 win against us.

We fell behind early, and it is noticeable that we’ve conceded a goal in the first quarter of the game on six times now at home. This one came in just the sixth minute with Liverpool’s second arriving the final minute of normal time at the end of the game.

Meeting with friends before the game, we were still discussing the second half at Fulham when we’d played really well and scored the two goals that brought the points home but we also had some concerns about Liverpool. They are one of the better sides in the league, of that there is no doubt, but there was some belief that this just might be our day.

Vincent Kompany had made just one change to the starting line-up from that which played in the win at Fulham and it was no surprise to see Jacob Bruun Larsen replaced which allowed Mike Trésor to continue having come on at half time at Fulham. There were two changes on the bench with fit again pair Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson and Aaron Ramsey replacing the rarely used Anass Zaroury and Michael Obafemi.

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We were back to normal and playing towards the cricket field end in the first half and there is one thing for sure, we had a big, big chance to go in front. Zeki Amdouni received the ball and turned past a Liverpool player well inside his own half and then moved forward. Suddenly we had four on three. Would Amdouni play it to Trésor to his left, to Wilson Odobert to his right or maybe try to slip in Lyle Foster? None of those, he chose to take a shot from just outside the box. It wouldn’t have troubled another set of goals. It really was a big chance missed and we very quickly paid for that.

The next time we touched the ball, we were picking it out of our own net. From the resulting goal kick, Liverpool played out and then switched the ball from right to left. There looked to be a foul by Dara O’Shea on Darwin Núñez but referee Paul Tierney played an advantage as the ball reached Cody Gakpo on the left. He got the better of Vitinho before pulling the ball back for Núñez who, from just outside the box, finished with a shot into the corner of our net.

Behind again and given we’ve not been able to find an equaliser all season at home, a difficult night looked very likely. For the remainder of the first half, absolutely nothing suggested otherwise and I’m sure the Liverpool players must have been scratching their heads as the half time whistle blew that they were still only one goal in front.

One of the big reasons for that was James Trafford. He’s undoubtedly had his critics this season, and with some justification, but he was very much an inform goalkeeper during a first half of Liverpool domination. Within two minutes of the goal, he’d made two saves. The first of the was routine but he then denied Mohamed Salah with an outstanding save, tipping the Liverpool player’s shot over the bar.

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Liverpool thought they had their second goal just before the half hour when Gakpo smashed home but referee Tierney blew for a foul by Núñez on Charlie Taylor. It was one of those situations where VAR will always go with the on field decision. I have to be honest; I would have been far from happy had we had a goal ruled out in those circumstances.

Gakpo then played a ball forward that dropped perfectly for Salah who hit his shot against the bar. This one would definitely not have counted had it gone in; the ball clearly hit Salah’s left arm and would have been ruled out for offside.

It wasn’t going to be Salah’s night in terms of goals. Right on half time, Trafford saved from him again just after he’d made a superb save down to his right to deny Watari Endō.

So, somewhat relieved, we went in with just that one goal deficit but nothing really changed in the second half, that was until Liverpool thought they’d scored a second. Harvey Elliott hit home from around ten yards out but then came the VAR review for offside. It led to the referee making his way to the monitor for a subjective offside. Salah was deemed to be blocking Trafford’s view, which he was. He’d been pushed into that offside position by Jordan Beyer but it’s been reported that the push was discounted because it wasn’t enough to award a penalty. Either way, footage shown to the referee on the monitor does appear to ignore that.

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The sight of Tierney indicating that the goal was to be disallowed lifted the Turf Moor crowd and that in turn seemed to lift the players. Suddenly it was a different game although Liverpool did have their moments.

But we had two, if not three, big opportunities to draw level. Sander Berge had just hit a shot wide but then Lyle Foster tried to play a ball across from the left that Liverpool could only clear as far as Vitinho who swept it out wide to Wilson Odobert was causing them some problems and he set up the best chance of them all for Guðmundsson who had replaced Trésor. Odobert weaved his way into the box before placing his cross for Guðmundsson at the far post but he could only head over the bar.

That was such a big chance and with the Burnley crowd in big voice, without the need for Russell Ball’s cut price flags, we were giving Liverpool a scare and there was to be one more big chance. With five minutes remaining, Kompany withdrew his two front men and replaced them with Nathan Redmond and Bruun Larsen and the latter soon had his chance. Just after Trent Alexander-Arnold had come close at one end with a stinging left-foot volley, a stray ball was played to Bruun Larsen by a Liverpool defender and he moved forward before hitting a shot wide of goal.

That was our last chance, we were about to end the game without registering a single shot on target but there was still to be some action at the other end. Trafford made another good save but Liverpool came forward again and their substitute Diogo Jota netted their second from a tight angle in the final minute of normal time, the ball going through Trafford’s legs.

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Trafford couldn’t do much about it and he definitely didn’t deserve that on a night when he turned in his best Turf Moor performance to date.Stoppage time brought no further scares but Berge did put a header over the bar and the game ended with a Burnley attack and Alisson catching the ball.

It was, sadly, another home defeat. That’s nine now this season in ten games with just the 5-0 hammering of Sheffield United bucking the trend. Worryingly, we’ve scored just five goals in those defeats and conceded a massive 24 goals.

Last night we had a great chance to go in front, fluffed it, went behind and then were indebted to the goalkeeper for the game not being over as a contest by half time. Once Elliott’s goal had been disallowed, we started to get ourselves into the game but by then 55 minutes had gone during which time we simply hadn’t offered anything like enough. We can’t afford to play that against anyone. We got away with it at Fulham and that meant we were able to go on and win the game in the second half. At 1-0 down last night at half time, we might have got away with it again given how we played for much of the second half. But we simply cannot keep handing the initiative to teams.

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There were so many positives last night, Trafford and Odobert to name two, and we had those big chances to get something from it. No doubt, we’ve played far, far worse this season and I reckon we’ll play worse again and get points.

We gave Liverpool a scare last night after allowing them to do almost what they wanted for far too long. Then we saw the best of us giving the team that’s gone top one hell of a game. We can’t wait to do that; we’ve got to do that from minute one until the final whistle blows.

The teams were;

Burnley: James Trafford, Vitinho, Dara O’Shea, Jordan Beyer, Charlie Taylor, Wilson Odobert, Josh Brownhill (Aaron Ramsey 90+1), Sander Berge, Mike Trésor (Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson 61), Zeki Amdouni (Jacob Bruun Larsen 85), Lyle Foster (Nathan Redmond 85). Subs not used: Arijanet Muric, Connor Roberts, Hannes Delcroix, Josh Cullen, Jay Rodriguez.
Yellow Cards: Sander Berge, Dara O’Shea.

Liverpool: Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jarell Quansah, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Harvey Elliott (Luis Díaz 67), Watari Endō, Ryan Gravenberch (Curtis Jones 66), Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo (Dominik Szoboszlai 67), Darwin Núñez (Diogo Jota 84). Subs not used: Caoimhin Kelleher, Ibrahima Konaté, Luke Chambers, James McConnell, Conor Bradley.
Yellow Card: Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Referee: Paul Tierney (Wigan).

Attendance: 21,624.

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