Match Preview: Burnley vs Liverpool

Liverpool travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley in the late kick-off on Saturday night. Liverpool comes into this fixture in high spirits after their exhilarating 3-1 win over Arsenal last time out. On the other hand, Burnley suffered a frustrating week, conceding a late penalty against Wolverhampton Wanderers in their 1-1 draw, before being at the hands of a giant-killing in the League Cup against Sunderland by losing 3-1 at home. Jurgen Klopp’s side is looking to maintain the gap to Manchester City to at least two points by getting past a stubborn Burnley side. Team news Naby Keita remains a “couple of weeks” away from action according to Klopp, implying he will be eased into the squad after the international break. Allison return date remains unknown with Klopp stating calf injuries such as the one Allison picked up are “proper injury” but has “made steps”, suggesting the Brazilian remains a while away from stepping on the pitch once again. Nathaniel Clyne is still a long-term absence for Liverpool due to recovering from a cruciate ligament injury. In terms of Dejan Lovren, he is expected to return in contention for selection as Klopp indicating “we need them all” referring to the center backs has squashed any chance of the Croatian leaving the club. Xherdan Shaqiri is still pushing for a first appearance this season, but Klopp made it clear “he will be needed”, reinforcing his importance to the squad. Shaqiri has taken it upon himself to pull out of international duty for Switzerland to work on his training. Burnley’s major injury concern is Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who has been a threat against Liverpool in the past but remains unlikely to be available for Saturday. Robbie Brady and Steven Defour as well remain on the side-lines; besides that, the Clarets have a fully fit squad to pick from. Predicted line-up It was evident what a week’s break did for the Reds going into the Arsenal as their intensity reached their usual high standard. They have had the same benefit for Burnley, so I am expecting a highly energetic performance with a very similar lineup. The same goalkeeper and back four should be unchanged, the only concern due to the physicality challenge Burnley offer, Joe Gomez may come in for Trent to match the height on the field when the home side is pinging long diagonal balls into the penalty area to create havoc. The only other question would be in midfield, Fabinho should keep his place due to his presence in the holding midfield role, as well his calmness and distribution will be key. It would be unwise to intervene with Henderson’s form in his new advanced role ahead of Fabinho with his energy and pressing being key to overcoming Burnley’s midfield. Henderson’s partner will be interesting, Wijnaldum would be a safe selection has his retention of possession would be fundamental to dominating the game. However, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin would be an exciting gamble as his driving runs would open spaces for the team when Burnley are defending in numbers. The front three just pick themselves. Five goals between them already in three Primer League games just reflects what a world-class attacking force they are. The individual moments they had when you rewatch Mane’s stunner, Bobby’s dazzling run and finish and Salah giving David Luiz nightmares. Predicted lineup Liverpool: Adrian, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Fabinho, Joran Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah What to expect  A reaction Burnley may have not had the best week concerning their results, however, they have always given Liverpool a tough encounter. Think of the 2016 2-0 defeat to Burnley when Liverpool had 88% of possession, even in recent victories last-minute goals have sealed results meaning the home side will look to keep themselves in the game until testing Liverpool in the latter stages of the game. Formation battles Despite a recent introduction of new systems, the classic 4-4-2 have been the symbol of Burnley’s old school club atmosphere. A tightly packed defense and midfield and mix of the two battling forwards at the top end of the pitch come as no surprise to the Turf Moor faithful. This may influence Liverpool’s approach, whether they go with their conventional 4-3-3 or try to outnumber the home side in the midfield battle with a 4-2-3-1 and try out Oxlade-Chamberlin in the number ten position? Only Klopp holds the answer to the tactical questions. History repeating itself Only once in Liverpool’s Primer League history have, they won their first four fixtures, that was last season. In a season where they broke so many of their records last season without reward, the reds have started similarly and do not look like missing out on the title by a point that has had any lasting effect. Prediction It should come as no surprise if Liverpool dominates the possession stats during the 90 minutes however Burnley will be a difficult defense to break down. The pace of Burnley’s wingers and the threat of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood will ask questions of Liverpool’s defense. However, I expect Liverpool to keep the ball and quieten the crowd and turn it into a testimonial game where they play at their pace. This should lead to Liverpool creating chances and if clinical, take the game away from Burnley. Though I do anticipate a period in the game where Burnley will put up a fight, I am going for a 2-0 win. Let us know what you think @TheAnfieldTalk.

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