Xherdan Shaqiri praised Liverpool’s “bravery” after they came from behind to win at Burnley on Wednesday night.
The Reds trailed after an hour at Turf Moor but hit back in style, with Shaqiri putting the seal on a 3-1 victory in stoppage time. The result means this is the best start to a league season in the club’s 126-year history. Jurgen Klopp’s side will go top of the Premier League if they win at Bournemouth in the Saturday lunchtime game.
Klopp described his team’s response as “special” after the game, with Shaqiri adding to strikes from James Milner and Roberto Firmino. The manager had made seven changes to his starting line-up for the game, leaving both Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the bench, but his gamble paid off eventually.
Speaking after the game, Shaqiri was unsurprisingly buoyant. And the Swiss star revealed the half-time pep talk from Klopp which had helped inspire the win.
“He just said we have to be more in the game, more lively in the game, and to win the ball more because a lot times we played not forward but back,” Shaqiri said.
“We weren't exactly perfect to get on the ball but in the second half we did better and we managed the game very well and then we scored three goals.
“We have to be brave in these games. We know we are going to have a lot of possession but obviously we have to defend well. They scored – I don't know if it was a foul [on the goalkeeper] or not but they decided to give the goal. We stayed calm and tried to manage the game and stay in the game and in the end we deserved to win. It was most important to take three points from here, which we know is not simple, so in the end we are happy.
“It is always tough to play here, I played with Stoke here and it was also a cold, rainy day so it is not simple to play this game but we managed it very well and we fully deserved to win the game.”
The win, of course, extends Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the league campaign to 15 matches, and moves them back to within two points of Manchester City.
More impressive, perhaps, was the manner of the win. Klopp took a risk by switching up his side, giving rare starts to the likes of Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno and Divock Origi while trusting others such as Shaqiri, Naby Keita and Daniel Sturridge to get them through.
A sign of Liverpool’s increased squad depth, of course. Speaking prior to the game, Klopp pointed out that “If somebody told me 15 years ago I could change seven positions and have a line-up like that, I would have said it was not possible.”
Shaqiri agrees, and believes the win at Burnley will give confidence to those who have found themselves on the fringes in recent weeks.
“Definitely,” he said. “It was a very important game, the coach said that to us. It gave a lot of players confidence to play this game and we managed it well.
“Obviously it is not simple for the other players who did not play for a long time so in the first half they needed time to come into the game but after that we managed it well and you can see we have a very strong team where everyone can play in the game.”
As for himself, he added: “You saw at the end of the game that I could sprint to the goal and try to score. He wants me to get on the ball and I tried a few times [to score] but it was not perfect what the coach wanted.
“We played very well in the second half and it was important to manage the game, retain ball possession, stay brave and wait for our chances and be clinical in front of goal and we did that.”
Liverpool expect to learn the full extent of Joe Gomez’s ankle injury in the next 24 hours. The England defender was stretchered off following a tackle by Ben Mee, the Burnley skipper, of last night’s game.
Klopp has already hinted that Gomez, one of the Reds’ standout performers so far this season, is facing a spell on the sidelines. The manager was critical of referee Stuart Attwell for allowing Burnley to tackle aggressively during Wednesday’s clash, and exchanged words with Clarets boss Sean Dyche at the final whistle – though both managers played down the incident.