ADAM LALLANA’s name on the team-sheet brought much debate.
Back in the starting line-up ahead of Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson for this clash with Burnley, it was even trending on social media in the UK.
Many of the comments were not very complimentary regarding Kop boss Jurgen Klopp’s decision to hand him just his fourth league start of the season.
But those inside Anfield are better judges it seems. They rightly stood and applauded when he was substituted in the 77th minute for Naby Keita.
This was a performance that shows the England midfielder could be a key player for the Reds in the Premier League title run-in.
Before kick-off the questions were about if Klopp had put their title hopes at risk by starting him.
Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane may have got the goals with a double each, but Lallana played just as crucial role in this timely win for the Reds.
It meant the Clarets’ controversial opener direct from Ashley Westwood’s corner and a stoppage-time strike from Johann Berg Gudmundsson counted for little.
Liverpool moved back to a point behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and they were back to winning ways as they look to end 29-years without a league title.
A week on from Klopp blaming the wind for their below-par showing in a glum goalless draw against Everton at Goodison, the Merseysiders’ title hopes didn’t get blown away in rough conditions across Stanley Park.
Gusts swirled around Anfield, hail fell from the skies and the sun popped out too.
It felt like a strange day on Merseyside even for the North-West’s usual unpredictable weather.
But it also looked like it could be an odd day for the hosts when Burnley took an unexpected lead in the sixth minute.
Westwood swung in a free-kick and it swirled in over Alisson.
The Kop keeper was clearly impeded by Burnley defender James Tarkowski but referee Andre Marriner dismissed the Brazilian’s protests then showed him a yellow card for his outburst.
Anfield was worried, there was fear this midday kick-off was going to leave them even further behind City in the title race with eight games to go.
But their concerns were eased in the 19th minute and Lallana played a key role in the equaliser.
It was the midfielder’s ball out to Mo Salah that switched the play and the Egyptian’s cross was met by a weak hand from Burnley keeper Tom Heaton.
The ball came off Tarkowski and fell for Firmino to tap home on the line.
Then Lallana created the second, this time diving in to block Phil Bardsley’s clearance.
The ball spun to Salah, Tarkowski’s tackle was brilliant but it only found a grateful Mane, who found the corner with a first-touch finish.
Liverpool got a gift for their third in the second half when Tom Heaton’s kick fell to Salah, he raced in but was again denied by Ben Mee.
It was a foul but the referee rightly gave advantage which allowed Firmino to tap home with the outside of his right boot.
Mane missed a great chance when he hit the bar from just three yards before Gudmundsson brought some nerves when he lashed home for the visitors from inside the area in stoppage time.
But Senegal star Mane got his second of the game with almost the final kick when he rounded Heaton after substitute Daniel Sturridge’s superb pass.
Liverpool fans have been desperate for the return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from injury, but Lallana’s re-emergence could be more important in this title race.