AND VIRGIL VAN DIJK OFFICIALLY IS A LIVERPOOL PLAYER TODAY IS A GOOD DAY.
Or is it? The Reds travel down to Burnley to face a very able and stubborn Clarets side that have been the surprise package of this year’s Premier League. Back in the summer, no-one would have guessed that Sean Dyche’s men would sit 7th in the table come New Year’s Day but that’s where they find themselves. Liverpool go into the game off the back of a strong victory over Leicester at Anfield less than two days ago. Could be a sobering experience this one. Match-day 22? Into these.
DATE: JANUARY 1ST 2018
WHERE: TURF MOOR
WHO: BURNLEY VS LIVERPOOL
REFEREE: ROGER EAST
Just if it wasn’t bad enough trying to beat the solid Burnley team with a knackered team, that knackered team will be without the King of Egypt, Mohamed Salah as he picked up a small knock in the victory over Leicester. He’ll be out for two or so weeks, funnily enough, coming back just in time for Manchester City’s visit to Anfield.
With Nathaniel Clyne, we are playing the waiting game. He may never play for Liverpool again if some reports are to be believed. There aren’t any other fresh injury concerns but there will be a lot of rotation due to the fact that there has been just one day between games.
There is no way on this planet that Virgil van Dijk is anywhere near the match-day squad. Liverpool are building a team here and we’ll need patience so Klopp can get his team right piece by piece.
James Tarkowski returns from a three match ban to come back into the first-team picture, and there will be late fitness tests for Chris Wood and Stephen Ward who are both doubtful to start in the game against Liverpool. Tom Heaton and Robbie Brady are the two notable long-term absentees for the Clarets.
We could be in for a centre-back pairing of Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez as Liverpool travel to Burnley and I personally know many a fan that would wholesomely approve of that plan. Like I said previously, it will be a majorly rotated squad for the Reds in order to cope with the congestion that is the festive period of matches. Jurgen Klopp’s lineup might be young compared to most in order to accommodate as many players as possible.
However at the same time, the German boss must be desperate to maintain his side’s long standing undefeated streak, that has been intact since the 4-1 mauling away to Spurs.
Elsewhere, Simon Mignolet should come back in for Loris Karius, and who knows whether Phil Coutinho will be anywhere near the squad after Nike leaked that he was set for the Nou Camp. Barcelona? I feel bad for you because this could be your biggest cock-up and could result in O Magico staying at Anfield.
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Ragnar Klavan, James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana, Marko Grujic, Ben Woodburn, Sadio Mane, Dominic Solanke.
Burnley: Tom Pope, Charlie Taylor, Ben Mee, James Tarkowski, Matthew Lowton, Nakhi Wells, Steven Defour, Jack Cork, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Sam Vokes, Jon Walters.
Key Battle: Sadio Mane vs The Burnley Defence
Sadio Mane has not been on the hottest streak of his career as of late and the game against Burnley could be a great opportunity for him to re-find some of his best form, particularly in the absence of Mo Salah from the starting lineup. If only he could come alive again and start banging in goals at the rate he was last season, eh? Get behind him and it will happen.
Don’t get me wrong, it will be difficult for the Senegalese winger, with the Burnley defence being one of the most sturdy in the Premier League, but with his ability to get in behind and expose the slower of the defenders, Sadio Mane should get the better of them here.
The thing that frustrates me with the Liverpool fan-base is that what we do is never enough to satisfy them. Can we not just be happy about winning a game without having negatives thrown in our faces? Let’s just focus on the fact that the Reds are on the up and as we move into the 2018 the world is truly ours for the taking, and it’ll start well, if my prediction is to be believed. I’m going with a 3-1 win for the Reds, with Jon Walter scoring his customary goal against us.
Happy New Year.