Burnley vs Liverpool
Venue: Turf Moor
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Liverpool travel to Turf Moor to face Burnley on Wednesday night after a quick turnaround from the weekend.
Burnley suffered their fifth defeat in the last six matches as they were beaten 2-0 by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last Saturday. Meanwhile, Liverpool left it late to seal a dramatic 1-0 victory at Anfield in the Merseyside derby on Sunday.
Burnley have it all to do after dropping into the bottom three whilst Liverpool are still chasing Manchester City and are just two points off top spot. Looking at the form, both teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum with Burnley picking up one point from their last five matches and the Reds picking up 13 points from a possible 15.
Liverpool currently boast the best defensive record of any team this Premier League season, conceding only five goals in the opening 14 matches. Only Fulham (35), who are bottom of the league, have conceded more goals than Burnley (29) this season which is something Burnley fans are not used to from their side. In contrast, the Clarets conceded only 39 goals over the whole campaign last season and finished in 7th place.
Burnley’s successful campaign last season is long forgotten and, since the side crashed out of the early stages of the Europa League, they have been far from consistent and have struggled to find any form at Turf Moor. The only real eye-opening result of Burnley’s season was a thumping 4-0 win against an in-form Bournemouth.
At this stage, Burnley have only played three of the top seven sides in the league and they haven’t scored a single goal having been turned over by Man Utd (0-2) and Chelsea (0-4) and by Man City (5-0). This piles on the pressure for Sean Dyche and another lacklustre performance against top opposition could see his job status change in the near future. Although he has the backing of the board and the fans, it is surely only a matter of time before questions start being asked of his tenure especially given the fact that Burnley’s immediate relegation rivals, Southampton and Fulham, have made changes to their management recently.
Liverpool are still flying high in the Premier League despite not quite breaking their backs with top performances. Their front three have not clicked but they also have not had to as Liverpool have put in some brilliant defensive displays. This is a new era for Liverpool and they look more likely to keep clean sheets now than to score three or more goals.
With games coming thick and fast, I’m expecting more and more changes to the usual starting XIs for all sides in the Premier League. The Christmas period can be grueling and only squads with great depth normally come through unscathed.
Dyche will again be without Nick Pope, Stephen Ward and Jon Walters who are all out for the long term. Questions remain over the fitness of Robbie Brady who picked up an ankle injury in the second half at the weekend.
The Clarets could see top scorer Sam Vokes (3) return to the starting XI as he settled for a spot on the bench against Crystal Palace on Saturday and only played the final 30 minutes. James Tarkowski was an unused substitute at the weekend and could make his first appearance in a month. In Tuesday’s press conference, Dyche revealed Steven Defour is “touch and go” after a slight knee injury.
Liverpool look likely to rest Sadio Mane who suffered a foot laceration in the second half of the match at the weekend. Andrew Robertson picked up a dead leg in the game and may not be risked, with Alberto Moreno his likely replacement.
Dejan Lovren was not in the 18-man squad against Everton but may return to the bench. Jordan Henderson returns to the squad after serving his one-match ban against Everton. With Liverpool expected to win, a fixture against Bournemouth at the weekend and a huge home clash against Napoli straight after, Klopp has to take this opportunity to rest players against Burnley.
Predicted Starting XIs
Burnley (4-4-1-1): Hart; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Lennon, Cork, Brady, Gudmundsson; Hendrick; Vokes.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Gomez, Lovren, Van Dijk, Moreno; Henderson, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Sturridge, Shaqiri.
Prediction: Burnley 0 Liverpool 2
Burnley are at an all-time low at the moment and have been leaking goals at the back home and away. A rotated Liverpool side fresh off the back of their victory in the Merseyside derby should be able to come away with all three points.