Sean Dyche’s Burnley may find this weekend to be the best time to visit Anfield. With Jurgen Klopp’s men encountering a disappointing week and the Clarets boasting four points from two challenging away fixtures to start their campaign, the visitors may fancy their chances of stealing a point on Merseyside.
Liverpool undefeated at Anfield for 43 years against Burnley
Yet Burnley will have to manufacture something special if they wish to overturn Liverpool on Saturday afternoon. The Reds are undefeated in 27 of their last 29 Premier League games at Anfield, whilst Burnley have failed to win 19 of their previous 21 outings. Add to the mix Liverpool’s recent record of five wins from six matches against their visitors and it is difficult to see past a home win.
Burnley will take confidence from Sadio Mane’s controversial suspension but he could be replaced by Phillipe Coutinho as he looks to wind his way back into the good books of the Anfield faithful. Though the playmaker did not make any friends with his supposed attempt to leave Liverpool for Barcelona, there is no doubting the ability of the attacking midfielder.
Coutinho is likely to start in a flexible front three alongside Roberto Firminho and Mohamed Salah, though Daniel Sturridge is also pushing for a return to action. The movement of the attackers will pose a different problem to Burnley’s central defenders who coped comfortably with the powerful yet static threat of Christian Benteke in their defeat of Crystal Palace last weekend.
With number one goalkeeper Tom Heaton ruled out for several weeks, replacement Nick Pope will be wary of Liverpool’s ability in front of goal. An average of 7.8 shots on target tops the Premier League statistics with Liverpool recording the best conversion ratio from attempts to hitting the target in the top flight.
Mignolet should return behind a defence under pressure
However, Liverpool’s defence also face a challenge of their own against Chris Wood who has five goals in three matches for club and country. Despite keeping two clean sheets in four matches, the Reds’ back four were heavily criticised for dismal displays against Manchester City and Watford. Wood, combined with either Jon Walters, Sam Vokes or Ashley Barnes, will be looking to exploit the space often provided between the two central defenders.
Burnley will also turn to set-piece specialist Robbie Brady to cause havoc. The Irishman has the ability to drop the ball on the smallest of targets which may cause concern for a zonal Liverpool defence that were all at sea from corners and free-kicks when they conceded three to Watford.
The midfield battle will also be one to keep an eye on. Jeff Hendrick may return from injury on Saturday and will be faced by Emre Can who has started the season in good form. Liverpool are adaptable and creative in midfield, underpinned by Jordan Henderson in the anchor role, though Burnley pride themselves on their energy and strong press to prevent the home side from creating space.
An intriguing battle lies in store, though Liverpool will be favourites if their back four can switch on to the battling threat of Dyche’s Burnley.