Rodgers' battlers dig in to nick victory at Turf Moor
Burnley 0 - Liverpool 1
Turf Moor will for ever be a symbol of Liverpool's capacity to fight back from positions of almost complete hopelessness.
In January 2005, they were knocked out of the FA Cup at Burnley . They were adrift in the league and it seemed as if Rafa Benitez's first season at Anfield might be his last. Four months later, they were champions of Europe.
The rewards that might come Brendan Rodgers' way in May will not be as grand. Nevertheless, Burnley away might come to be seen as a turning point of sorts. By half time Liverpool were being completely outplayed by a Burnley side employing so very much more than in-your-face football. The visitors, by contrast, were sometimes desperately uncertain.
Rodgers was deploying the 3-4-3 formation he had come up with while spending a late night attempting to solve Liverpool's chronic problems with injury and personnel.
Turf Moor with steady, freezing rain cascading down is place for experimental football and the formation that had enjoyed some success at Bournemouth and against Arsenal was being stretched to the very limit.
Danny Ings had driven a shot against the foot of the post. Brad Jones had come off with a thigh injury shortly afterwards and his replacement Simon Mignolet, looked what he is; an out-of-form keeper. Once in the second half, he delayed his kick, allowed the ball to go out of play for a corner, which saw Michael Keane head into the side netting. Meanwhile Scott Arfield's shot had deflected off Lucas Leiva's boot and whistled past the post.
For Rodgers, the equation seemed simple. He surely had to accept that whatever formation Liverpool played, Mamadou Sakho will never be Alessandro Nesta and that he needed to abandon 3-4-3, use Alberto Moreno as a specialist left-back and probably throw on Rickie Lambert as a proper centre-forward.
He did no such thing. Kolo Touré was removed but in his place came Emre Can, who was known in the Bundesliga for many things but not for his prowess as a centre-half. The formation was maintained, Liverpool had one clear-cut chance and Raheem Sterling took it. It was similar to the one-on-ones squandered at Old Trafford earlier in the month and which had earned him so much criticism. Now, played in by Philippe Coutinho in the 62nd minute, he produced a sudden injection of pace, took the ball round keeper Tom Heaton and scored.
Sitting in the Burnley press room, Rodgers looked visibly taken aback when asked if Liverpool had been lucky. "Not at all," he replied. "I thought we displayed some outstanding qualities when they were needed. They pressed us hard and made it difficult for us in the first half but, after the break, there was one clear chance, it came our way and we put it away."
This was Burnley's first defeat at Turf Moor since Everton won 3-1 here at the end of October.
Then, Burnley were still searching for their first league win of the season.
Now, despite this defeat, it does seem the Premier League might indeed possess three worse teams than Burnley, who face Manchester City tomorrow.
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Keane, Shackell, Mee (Jutkiewicz 93), Boyd, Marney, Jones (Wallace 83), Arfield, Barnes (Vokes 80), Ings.
Subs not used: Kightly, Reid, Gilks, Long.
Liverpool: Jones (Mignolet 16), Touré (Can 45), Skrtel, Sakho, Henderson, Gerrard, Lucas, Markovic, Coutinho (Lambert 73), Sterling, Lallana.
Subs not used: Moreno, Manquillo, Balotelli, Ojo.
Goal: Sterling 62.
Man of match: Sterling (above).
Match rating: 6/10
Referee: Anthony Taylor