It’s pretty clear Liverpool need a win at Anfield on Thursday night… and against a stubborn Burnley side that could prove quite difficult.
The Reds are in action once again, seeking their first victory in the league since December 19th after frustrating performances against West Brom, Newcastle, Southampton and Manchester United. As a result, Liverpool now find themselves in fourth position in the league, a heavy fall from the dizzy Christmas heights of holding the top spot. With teams around them finding form it is vital that Jurgen Klopp’s men claim three points to stay in the title hunt, by any means necessary.Embed from Getty Images
Liverpool’s front three have come under fire this week for, quite simply, not firing. The goals have dried up after the flood gates opened in their 7-0 victory against Palace, with no player finding the back of the net in a successive three premier league matches. In fact, Liverpool have only scored one goal from 62 shots since that Palace drubbing – and not since the 1999-2000 season have Liverpool failed to score in four successive games…
Diogo Jota is not expected to return from a knee injury for several weeks.Sky Sports News
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Tho compound matter, Burnley have been solid in defence and have only conceded 22 goals this season, one less than Liverpool. James Tarkowski and Ben Mee have been central to that feat with Matt Lowton and Erik Pieters also impressing in recent performances. They are a dogged team to break down and can dig in to grind out results, but their ‘goals for’ column sits at a meagre 9 goal haul: although, they have scored more goals than Liverpool have in their past three games!
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When Liverpool (or indeed any big team) go on a winless streak it seems to attract all sorts of opinions and ‘analysis’ as to why. A strange and bewildering claim that has emerged this week is that Spanish superstar Thiago Alcantara is the reason behind the lack of goals.
I know, bear with me.
Former Reds’ midfielders, Didi Hamann and John Barnes have expressed their thoughts openly and stated that Thiago ‘slowed it (attacks) down in tight areas’ and that ‘we are getting used to a new system, but at the moment it is not working.’ Hamann goes on to suggest ‘Liverpool were always good when the played quickly forward, and he’s not that type of player.’ It certainly is a bold claim and perhaps one worth keeping an eye on to see if it has any substance.
Liverpool are unbeaten at home now in 68 games and the aerial threat of Burnley’s Chris Wood may prove to be a pivotal battle ground in maintaining that streak. Depending on who is chosen as the centre back pairing, either Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips, Joel Matip or Fabinho, they will have their hands full should Sean Dyche employ a set-piece/long ball/cross at every opportunity tactic with Liverpool’s makeshift centre backs.
There have been calls from the Liverpool fan base to play Phillips and Matip (if fit) to play as the CB duo and allow the midfield trio of Fabinho, Henderson and Thiago to be unleashed, giving Gini a well-earned rest. The aerial presence of both Phillips and Matip would certainly help quash the Woods threat.
The Clarets haven’t scored an away goal since 3rd October 2020 and they will be trying everything possible to change that, exposing the lack of Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez in the starting line-up must not be far from Dyche’s thoughts.
Liverpool central defender Joel Matip has resumed full training and could play for the first time since suffering an adductor injury on 27 DecemberBBC Sport
Burnley themselves are close to being drawn into a fierce fracas at the other end of the table: they are in 17th position in the league and only four points clear of the drop zone. This game is sure to be a dogfight from both teams who are desperate to find form and points at either end of the table.
Burnley hope to welcome back Charlie Taylor, who has not featured since the win against Sheffield United on 29 December because of a hamstring injury.
Jimmy Dunne will be assessed for a minor injury, while Bailey Peacock-Farrell has been self-isolating.Embed from Getty Images
A good omen for Liverpool is that only Sheffield United have picked up less points than Thursday’s visitors on the road; their away form is poor but their record at Anfield is even worse. Burnley have not won at Anfield in the league since September 1974 and have been unable to find a win in their last 17 outings. However, as we have already witnessed, stranger things have happened this season.
Burnley have lost back-to-back games in the league and only have two wins in their last six, although the same can be said for Liverpool. If Liverpool are going to find three points on Thursday night, they will have to find a way past Dyche’s preferred 4-4-2 formation.
Klopp’s Reds will have to be aware of the extra man in Burnley’s midfield and perhaps look to push Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (side note: how good has he been!) further up the field to push back the Burnley wingers and leave Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood isolated up top with Liverpool’s holding midfielder dropping back when needed.Embed from Getty Images
Whichever way the teams line up, whichever choice of personnel enters the fray under the Anfield lights, both teams need a win. Liverpool must recapture that spark to ignite their second coming of the title race; Burnley will want to avoid the drop at all costs. With so much on the line Thursday night, the Reds will be desperate for their fortunes to change and to find some form, especially ahead of their clash against Manchester United again on Sunday in the F.A Cup – and for the remainder of the Premier League season.
This season the title is seemingly anybody’s who can find a run of form; Liverpool will want to attack the title they are defending and they will have to start attacking it soon, or else the running pack ahead of them may be too far from reach.
Here’s to Thursday, here’s to Jurgen Klopp, and here is to the return of winning ways.
Up the Reds, stay safe, YNWA
By: Ritchie Slack (@Slack_9) – Read More Pieces Here