Liverpool will look to continue their charge towards the top three of the Premier League table in 2018 as they face an insurgent Burnley side.
Not many would have envisaged Burnley sitting where they are right now – seventh on the table with 34 points, only six less than what they managed in the entire 2016-17 campaign. The Clarets though, are winless in their last four games and would like for the new year to start off in the same vein of form that saw them charge towards the top end of the table.
Liverpool’s season seems to be coming together nicely. A deal for Virgil van Dijk has already been agreed and the Reds are now just 4 points away from second place. Jurgen Klopp will hope to start the new year on the right foot with a win over a side that has looked to threaten the autonomy of the top six in Premier League.
Burnley did shock Liverpool with a 2-0 win over them in their last encounter at Turf Moor. Ahead of the respective sides’ first game of the new calendar year, we take a closer look at Burnley and Liverpool.
Team News & Tactics
Tom Heaton, Robbie Brady, Stephen Ward and Chris Wood remain sidelined for the Clarets. Sean Dyche though, has seen Nick Pope step up brilliantly in goal and should continue to be deputised between the posts.
James Tarkowski is now available after serving his 3-match suspension and the player is likely to assume his place in the starting lineup in Kevin Long’s stead. The defence has been the cornerstone of Burnley’s current points tally and position in the Premier League.
The goals have dried up a lot in recent times, with the club unable to score in 3 of their last 4 outings. This could very well see Sean Dyche revert to a 4-4-2 from the 4-4-1-1 he has been using of late. The change could see Chris Wood partner Sam Vokes upfront, with Ashley Barnes likely to be introduced at some point of time in the tie.
Burnley are likely to take the game to Liverpool instead of sitting back and absorbing the pressure. Sean Dyche likes his side to also hoof long balls from time-to-time in order to test the opposition defence and this tactic could be used even more often on Monday, considering Liverpool’s flailing defence.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Gudmundsson, Cork, Defour, Arfield; Vokes, Wood
2017 could not have ended on a more sour note, with Mohamed Salah, Liverpool’s leading goalscorer for the season, succumbing to an injury, after limping off in the 2-1 win over Leicester City. Simon Mignolet is expected to return in goal for Liverpool, with Klopp likely to keep rotating the goalkeepers.
In defence, Alberto Moreno will not be fit in time for the fixture, which is likely to see Andrew Robertson continue to be deployed at left-back. Virgil van Dijk cannot be registered in time for the match and will have to sit this one out. Joel Matip should start but his partner could change, with Ragnar Klavan rested against Leicester City.
Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were rested over the weekend and are likely to return to the lineup, with Klopp likely to rotate the midfield due to the fixture congestion.
In attack, Mohamed Salah’s absence could see Oxlade-Chamberlain being deployed out wide instead of in his preferred midfield position.
Jurgen Klopp will intend for his side to continue with the same tactic. But, against a Burnley side that often hoofs long balls into the last third, Liverpool could sit deep to a little extent in order to counter the home side’s threat.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Klavan, Robertson; Can, Wijnaldum, Coutinho; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Firmino, Mane
1. Burnley Asian Handicap +1.0 @ 2.060
2. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.95
3. Coutinho to score anytime @ 2.50
1. Burnley Draw No Bet @ 5.00
1. January Jinx – Liverpool have won just 4 of the 18 matches played in all competitions under Jurgen Klopp.
2. Full of Form – Liverpool are on a 15-game unbeaten streak in all competitions – their joint-longest streak under Klopp.
3. Merry Monday – Burnley have won each of their last six home games played on Monday in all competitions.
4. Away Frowns – Only two other teams (Stoke City, West Ham) have conceded more away goals this season so far than Liverpool (20 goals in 10 games)
5. Mohamed Salah will surely be missed. The summer arrival at Anfield has only 2 Premier League goals fewer than the entire Burnley team (19).
Player to Watch
There are rumours afloat of Barcelona set to swoop in for Coutinho in January. The stage might just be set for the Brazilian’s last appearance in a Liverpool shirt. And the player, the club, the fans – all in tandem – would like for him to mark the end of his stint at Anfield on a high, if at all it is his last appearance for Liverpool.
Burnley 2-2 Liverpool
Sean Dyche’s potential return to 4-4-2 might see Turf Moor enjoy a few goals fired in by the home side. Liverpool on the other hand, will also be on a high, given their recent wins. Coutinho is likely to be involved heavily in the Reds’ goals.
In reality, this could end in a win for Burnley. But, given the Clarets’ recent barren run – no win in the last 4 games – Liverpool are primed to get a point and quite possibly, all three, which should depend on Sean Dyche’s choice of formation.