Having defeated Arsenal 4-3 away from home on the opening day of the 2016/17 Premier League season, the trip to Burnley the following week, was one which was expected to yield maximum points. Prior to that match, Liverpool had won all four previous meetings against the Clarets, without conceding a goal but despite enjoying 80.4% possession in the match, the Reds came away with a 2-0 defeat.
Now, having just defeated Arsenal again, this time 3-1 at home, Jurgen Klopp’s team welcome Burnley to Anfield to put the horrible memory of Turf Moor behind them.
Given the fact Burnley have the worst away record in the Premier League, having lost eleven and drawn two of their thirteen away matches, they are the one team everyone would be happy to host. However, this Liverpool team are proven to struggle against teams in the bottom half of the table and Burnley cannot be underestimated on Sunday afternoon.
This season, Liverpool have played Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Everton and Manchester United away from home in the Premier League and faced Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at home in the Premier League. If you were to guess where the bulk of the five league defeats have come from this season, you would be forgiven for picking any of the above-mentioned fixtures. In fact, Liverpool’s five Premier League losses have come against Bournemouth, Hull, Swansea, Leicester and upcoming opponents, Burnley.
In terms of team news ahead of the game, Jordan Henderson is set to continue his spell on the sidelines and Roberto Firmino is a doubt, having missed training on Friday. Otherwise, Klopp has a strong squad to choose from, with no further injuries or suspensions to report.
Burnley are a team who have been in poor form of late, having failed to win any of their previous four league games. They sit just below mid-table and currently have nothing to play for, in terms of avoiding relegation or qualifying for Europe. This may make them less determined to pick anything up from the match but could also see them playing without any fear, something which makes any team dangerous.
Although there will be much talk prior to kick-off regarding Liverpool’s poor record against teams towards the bottom end of the Premier League, it serves well to remember the comfortable home victories against Stoke, Watford, Leicester and Hull this season. This group of Liverpool players can beat the less fancied teams and these results prove it. Burnley will defend deep and with numbers, there is little doubt about that but Liverpool should be prepared for that and not expect to have any space to exploit in the final third, especially centrally. Furthermore, the visitors will not be afraid to send the ball long when required and mix it up physically in the midfield areas of the pitch.
Focus at the back will be key for Liverpool, if they are to win this game. Possession will be in the Reds favour but there will be times when Burnley come forward and the defence must be switched on when it happens. Too many times this season, when Liverpool have been dominating games, teams have taken advantage of lapses in concentration at the back.
A good start is key to winning this game, like it is any other but defensive focus and concentration, especially at set-pieces is what could be the difference between three points and one.
Watch Klopp’s press conference below.