After last week’s goalless draw with Manchester United, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side look to snap a four-match winless run in the Premier League tonight. Sean Dyche’s Burnley await them next on Merseyside, after 1-0 defeats vs. United and West Ham themselves. Are they capable of pulling off an unlikely upset, or can the defending champions return to winning ways?
Liverpool vs Burnley: Can Clarets spring an unwelcome surprise?
Kick-off time: 8pm BST
Roberto Firmino’s big missed chance over the weekend means the Brazilian has now gone five club games without a goal for the third time already this term. Unsurprisingly, his poor form was highlighted by club legend Jamie Carragher this week, and it’ll continue to rumble with time.
The only way to silence those critics and suggestions he’ll be replaced is, naturally, to start scoring again. It’s not been that simple for Liverpool as a whole though, not just him.
Since blasting seven past Crystal Palace on December 19, they’ve scored just one goal in their four top-flight games (West Brom, Newcastle, Southampton and United).
They won 4-1 in the FA Cup against what was essentially an under-23 Aston Villa side on Jan. 8, as COVID protocols meant Dean Smith couldn’t field his regular first-team players.
Since returning to play after the lockdown in late June, Burnley has only scored more than once on two occasions in their 26 subsequent top-flight games. One was against relegated Norwich the following month, and their other was a 2-1 win over Wolves before Christmas.
This should be a low-scoring affair but I’m unconvinced, considering the Reds’ ability to break teams down over 90 minutes – especially one who operate defensively like Dyche’s men do.
Unsurprisingly, Liverpool is often dominant in this fixture (W9, D2, L1) and are unbeaten in their last seven meetings. They should banish some much-needed creative blues in this matchup against a side lacking consistent attacking threat themselves, so am predicting a home shutout.
Team news, possible starting line-ups
Joel Matip (adductor) has resumed full training and could feature for the first time since December 27, though Naby Keita (overload) is doubtful.
Diogo Jota isn’t expected until next month, like Konstantinos Tsimikas (both knee) while Klopp has refused to clarify whether centre-back pairing Virgil van Dijk (ACL) and Joe Gomez (muscle) could play a part before the season’s end. Neither are expected back before May, at the earliest.
In the national newspapers, Klopp was quoted as admitting that van Dijk’s recovery is looking “really promising” earlier today – three months after a seemingly season-ending injury.
Burnley hope for a Charlie Taylor (hamstring) return, who hasn’t featured since their win over Sheffield United on December 29. Jimmy Dunne will be assessed for a minor injury, while second-choice goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell has been self-isolating and is unavailable.
Possible starting line-ups
Liverpool: Alisson; Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Thiago, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
Burnley: Pope; Pieters, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton; Brownhill, Westwood, Gudmundsson; Brady, Wood, McNeil.
Picture source: LFC Globe, Eurosport