Sean Dyche admits Liverpool showed where Burnley need to improve after a 3-0 defeat to the European champions at Turf Moor.
A freak opening goal, with Chris Wood inadvertently deflecting in a cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold, changed the course of the game after Burnley had given as good as they’d got in the first half.
Sadio Mane quickly added a second after a slip from Ben Mee, before Roberto Firmino wrapped up the points for the 100% Reds in a second half Liverpool controlled.
Dyche was happy with his players’ efforts, but feels they can only learn from Liverpool’s devastating transitions: “I was pretty pleased with the performance overall, I don’t think it ends up a 3-0 game from the actual game, but the first one is unlucky, it takes a big deflection off Woody, and wrong foots Popey, spinning it in.
“And the second one is a mistake. To be honest, until then I didn’t think there was a lot in it, we defended well and opened them up a couple of times.
“We know they play a much higher line this year, which we wanted to affect, and we did, early on, with Woody getting in behind, and numerous other times when the margins were tight on offside calls.
“We wanted to work on that little moment when you’re really high as strikers. We didn’t always time it right, but the concept was there.
“Once you’re 1-0 down, you wonder, and they get a second one from a mistake, clinical though, as they are, no taking away from them, very clinical, very good on transition, and that’s my biggest gripe, it’s not 3-0, it’s just we gave the ball away in so many cheap positions, and you can’t do that against these.
“They pounce and act on transitions well, they almost play a back seven with the three floating out, drifting, waiting for their moments, and when they get them, they hurt you. That was the biggest difference in the game.”
There was a mountain to climb in the second half, and Dyche added: “The mentality is good second half but they’re strong defensively as well now, van Dijk has made a huge difference, not just his ability, but the effect he’s had knocking on to others.
“They’re a strong outfit, without a shadow of a doubt, so it’s hard to break down.
“We huffed and puffed and made a few moments, I suppose my gripe is about us giving it away, but when we worked in transition, we didn’t find those killer passes, even when they were opened up and we were in a position to do so.
“That’s what we’ve got to continue to learn and improve on, and that’s sometimes the hardest bit, that clinical moment in both boxes.”
Dyche admits that Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester City look like being the top two by some distance again: “I certainly think Tottenham have similar strong moments, they can hurt you with the ball and in transition, Arsenal are still probably in transition, and Chelsea, they’re all very good on transition and very effective, but Liverpool and Man City are the best.
“If you turn the ball over in a bad area, the number of times they capitalise, or at least get a chance, and change the flow of the game, the tempo and mentality of the game.
“So, you learn from these top teams, and that’s one thing, your moments of quality on transition. It’s a massive thing.”