Liverpool will be eager to build on their season-opening win at Norwich City when they host Burnley at Anfield on Saturday.
The Premier League is up and running, with the opening gameweek of the season yielding ten definitive results. After some shocks and some expected results, the table has started taking shape, as we move into the second round of fixtures, which will begin at a packed Anfield, where Liverpool will play hosts to Burnley in Saturday’s lunch-time kick-off.
Liverpool are coming into this season with a lot of eagerness to return to the summit of the Premier League following a meek surrender of their title last term. And the Reds showed they mean business in their season-opening fixture, dispatching top-flight returnees Norwich City with ease in a 3-0 win, which saw Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah all find the back of the net.
Burnley, on the other hand, have been notoriously slow starters in recent seasons, and that could well be the case at the onset of 2021/22 as well. The Clarets were involved in an eye-catching contest against Brighton & Hove Albion, although they were on the losing end as they squandered an early lead before losing 2-1 at home.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a shock 1-0 win for Burnley, in a result that ended Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten streak at Anfield in the top-flight and kick-started a horrendous run at home for Jurgen Klopp & co. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp has a fresh roster issue hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Burnley. On Saturday, the Liverpool manager will be bereft of the services of two first-team players due to injury or other issues.
Andrew Robertson remains unavailable due to an ankle injury he sustained in pre-season. While the Scottish defender has started running, he is still some way off being fit enough to return. The other absentee for Liverpool is Fabinho, who is unavailable on compassionate grounds.
In Robertson’s continued absence, Kostas Tsimikas will once again get a chance to impress from the left-back slot. On the opposite flank, there is no looking past Trent Alexander-Arnold, who will pose a lot of threat with his deliveries from the right wing as well as from set-pieces.
At the heart of the Liverpool defence, Joel Matip will pair up with Virgil van Dijk, with Alisson Becker a certainty in goal. Up ahead in midfield, Jordan Henderson is likely to earn his first start of the season after going some way in getting up to speed this week.
The Liverpool captain will come into the side in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who failed to make much of an impression last week. Naby Keita and James Milner, though, will keep hold of their places, with the two being the workhorses in the middle of the park.
Finally, in attack, the key decision for Klopp will be to pick three out of his four first-choice options. Diogo Jota started ahead of Roberto Firmino last week, but the Brazilian forward ought to be recalled to the starting lineup, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane being the two wide men.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Tsimikas; Keita, Henderson, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Unlike his counterpart in the Liverpool dugout, Sean Dyche does not have any new issues to deal with ahead of the trip to Anfield. On Saturday, the Burnley manager will have to make do without two first-team players, with Kevin Long (calf) and Dale Stephens (ankle) both still sidelined.
Otherwise, Dyche has a full strength squad at his disposal, with Phil Bardsley now in contention to start after completely recovering from his injury. However, Matt Lowton is expected to retain his place on the right side of the Burnley defence.
Charlie Taylor will take his place on the left flank while James Tarkowski and Ben Mee will form the central defensive partnership. Nick Pope will be the man between the sticks, with the English international set to be a busy man in goal for Burnley.
As for the midfield unit, Jack Cork ought to pair up with Ashley Westwood, with Josh Brownhill being an option on the bench. Out wide, Johann Berg Gudmundsson will get the nod on the right wing, with Dwight McNeil a certainty on the left. Finally, Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez will form the strike partnership.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Gudmundsson, Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Wood, Rodriguez
- Liverpool lost 1-0 at home against Burnley in the Premier League last season, ending their 68-match unbeaten league run at Anfield. The Clarets last won successive away league matches against Liverpool in their first two attempts back in the 1894/95 and 1896/97 seasons.
- Burnley have suffered 10 defeats in 14 Premier League matches against Liverpool (W2 D2), and a loss in this match would see the Clarets end up on the wrong end of a result in more than 10 Premier League games against an opponent for the first time, also losing 10 against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.
- Liverpool have not suffered back-to-back home defeats in the Premier League against an opponent since losing three in a row versus Crystal Palace between 2014/15 and 2016/17. Alan Pardew, who led Palace to the first two of those three wins, remains the only English manager to win consecutive away Premier League games against Liverpool.
- Liverpool have lost their first home league match in just three of the last 55 seasons and have won their first league game at Anfield in each of the last eight. Their last such defeat was against Chelsea in 2003/04. Burnley, on the other hand, have won their first away league game in just two of the last 14 seasons (D3 L9), beating Sheffield Wednesday in 2013/14 and Chelsea in 2017/18.
- Liverpool are on the longest current unbeaten run in the Premier League (11), and have won their last six games in a row. The Reds have taken 29 points from their last 11 games (W9 D2), having earned just 10 points in their previous 11 in the competition (W3 D1 L7).
Player to Watch
The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino will invariably have the spotlight on them for much of the game, it is Jordan Henderson who will be the key man for Liverpool against Burnley.
Over the past month or so, the veteran midfielder has been involved in a precarious contract situation that has created some speculation surrounding his future. However, that is unlikely to deter Henderson from doing what he does best – perform on the pitch. With talks over a renewal finally kick-starting, the Liverpool captain will also look to kick-start his campaign in solid fashion, starting with the Burnley game.
Liverpool 2-0 Burnley
Burnley will pose a fair bit of threat in the air and during set-piece situations. However, the solid presence of Virgil van Dijk is likely to take Chris Wood out of the game whenever Burnley do charge forward to create the openings from the flanks.
On the opposite end, Mohamed Salah ought to be in business again, with Sadio Mane also possibly getting among the goals for the first time this season. In the end, it should be pretty straightforward for the hosts, who should be buoyed by the packed Anfield to get past Burnley and continue their perfect start to the season. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Jurgen Klopp & co.