Liverpool must deal with the pressure against Burnley in a game they must win to keep their chances in the title race alive; a loss would be catastrophic.
At one point of the season, Liverpool were well and indeed considered favourites to win the Premier League title for the first time in almost three decades, but things have now changed for the Reds. Manchester City with their impressive displays, starting with their game against Liverpool back in January, have climbed back and reclaimed top spot and lead the Reds by a point on the table.
The Citizens face Watford on Saturday, and a win will take them four points above Liverpool, thus making the game against Burnley a must win. Liverpool have been dropping points off the hook and the two draws against Manchester United and Everton in recent weeks have ensured merely they have lost control of their lead up top.
The last time the two sides met in the league was back in December when Liverpool won 1-3 at Turf Moor. Jurgen Klopp left Turf Moor in a somewhat bad mood following Joe Gomez’ fractured foot which has seemingly ruled the defender out for a long time.
Burnley, on the other hand, have had some impressive performances this season against the big sides, with the last coming against Tottenham at Turf Moor. However, in their previous two games in the League the Clarets have suffered defeats at the hands of Newcastle United and Crystal Palace, leaving them only five points ahead of the relegation zone.
Burnley will want to get a decent result against Liverpool, while a loss would seriously raise question marks over their future in the Premier League. Sean Dyche would undoubtedly wish to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle, but his Burnley side has not won at Anfield in 44 years, and the assumption is that this record is set to continue.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp will probably shuffle his midfield although there could be minor changes in attack, with Roberto Firmino, set to return the starting lineup after overcoming an ankle problem. James Milner, who also had a similar problem is on the mend and could be named in the squad.
Georginio Wijnaldum does look like a sure starter, although Klopp would want to give him a breather ahead of the Bayern Munich clash in Munich. Replacing him in the side would be a tricky tale, with Klopp so far showing reluctance to give Naby Keita minutes, while Xherdan Shaqiri has also seemingly fallen out of favour. Fabinho looks like a guaranteed starter, while Milner and Keita look like the other two in midfield.
Klopp might not want to change his defensive line of Allison, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil Van Dijk and Andrew Robertson, who have kept five clean sheets in a row. Dejan Lovren, on the other hand, is back in the squad after two months out with an injury. On the front side, Firmino will join Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Allison; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
The Clarets will be without midfielder Steven Defour who underwent calf surgery and will certainly not play another game for the team this season. Aaron Lennon will also miss the trip as he still remains sidelined with an injury. Sean Dyche is expected to name an unchanged side, despite the same team losing heavily to Crystal Palace the last time out.
Heaton will keep his place between the posts ahead of Joe Hart, while Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee and Taylor are set to continue their places in defence. Westwood, Cork, Hendrick and McNeil will form the midfield while Barnes and Wood are set to be retained up front. Sean Dyche will be hoping the team, together could bounce back from their recent disappointing results and get a result at Anfield.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Heaton; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Westwood, Cork, Hendrick, McNeil; Barnes, Wood
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 2.20
2. Burnley Asian Handicap + 2.0 @ 2.090
1. Correct Scoreline – Liverpool 2-1 Burnley @ 9.50
- Liverpool have won nine of their last 11 home games against Burnley in all competitions (D2) since a 0-1 loss in September 1974.
- Burnley have picked up just four points from their 27 available in the Premier League against Liverpool (W1 D1 L7), winning 2-0 at Turf Moor in August 2016 before drawing this exact fixture last season.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 35 Premier League home games (W25 D10).
- Burnley have won two of their last three Premier League games played on Sunday (L1), as many as they had in their previous 20 played on the day (W2 D4 L14).
- Burnley have only lost one of their last five away league games (W2 D2), though it was their previous such match on the road (0-2 vs Newcastle).
Player to Watch
Virgil Van Dijk
The Dutchman yet again showed why he is the premier centre-back in world football right now with an imperious performance against Everton last time out. The central defender has been in top form all throughout the season and especially in recent games when Liverpool have managed to keep five clean sheets in a row. The Reds have never managed to hold more than five, and Van Dijk would want that now.
The defender has been the reason for Liverpool conceding fewer goals than any other side this season, and Van Dijk’s performances have seen him be in the reckoning for PFA Player of the Year at the end of the season. A seasoned performance from the defender against Burnley will not only help Liverpool get back in the race but also silence doubters who may not think he should be player of the year.
Liverpool 3-0 Burnley
There can be no qualms about who might win this game as Liverpool are the clear favourites here. Burnley have shown resilience against some of the big six sides this season, although Liverpool’s bid for the title will see the energy flow and that could crush Burnley. Additionally, expect Liverpool to continue keeping clean sheets with a sixth one against Burnley.
Then there’s the talk of Liverpool’s misfiring front three, who might get what they want against Burnley as Salah, Firmino and Mane are all expected to find the net, and the Reds could score three or more goals at Anfield.