It wasn’t the bounce back that Liverpool were after in midweek, as they were held to a 2-2 draw against Sevilla. Nevertheless, they put on a much better showing than they did in the last league game against Manchester City and a draw in the opening Champions League fixture is not to be sniffed at. They return to Anfield again on Saturday, for a game that, on paper, appears to be very straight forward. Burnley are a side who tend to pick up most of their points at home and have largely stayed in the Premier League due to their performances at Turf Moor. However, they have already picked up a shock victory away to Chelsea on the opening day of this season, so Jurgen Klopp’s men will need to be a little bit wary.
Liverpool Team News
Simon Mignolet will resume his position as Liverpool’s number one goalkeeper, in the Premier League that is. Following the match last weekend, in which he conceded five, he should expect a much quieter time of it against Burnley and will ultimately be disappointed if he comes out of the game without a clean sheet.
Trent Alexander-Arnold should start at right back this week, more for his confidence than anything else. The 18-year-old had a torrid time of it against Manchester City and, although he is a promising talent, it’s clear that there is still so much about top flight football that he must learn. If Klopp decided to leave him out for a much simpler fixture, it could drop his morale right down. I think the rotation policy for centre-backs will continue as there is still no clear indicator as to who the consistent starters will be. Dejan Lovren could line-up alongside Ragnar Klavan and overall it should be a comfortable game, but there could be some shaky moments.
As fixture congestion is starting to build up, I’m anticipating that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be deployed in the starting XI, for the first time in his Liverpool career. It will be interesting to see how well he works alongside his international teammate, Jordan Henderson. After a string of dependable displays so far, this season, Emre Can should round out the midfield three.
As Sadio Mane is serving the first of his three-match suspension, Philippe Coutinho is likely to come in to make his first start of this season. The Brazilian played 15 minutes of the Sevilla game and appears to be ready to fit back into the team, who so desperately hung onto him this summer. His return to fitness couldn’t have come at a better moment and he will play alongside fellow Brazilian, Roberto Firmino and new signing, Mohamed Salah for the first of, hopefully, many times.
Predicted Lineup: Mignolet; Moreno, Klavan, Lovren, Alexander-Arnold; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Can; Coutinho, Firmino, Salah
Burnley Team News
Burnley have had an incredibly consistent starting lineup this season, and have made just two changes to their team for the first four fixtures of the Premier League campaign. This makes my job of predicting their team a whole lot easier.
One change that will have to be made is in the goalkeeper position. Tom Heaton appears to be out for a lengthy spell after dislocating his shoulder against Crystal Palace. In his place will be Nick Pope who will make the first PL start of his career. Pope maintained a clean sheet for the rest of the Crystal Palace game, although that hasn’t been one of the hardest things to do in recent times. Liverpool should try to get as many shots off, as early as possible, to try and test the inexperienced ‘keeper. Former Manchester United stopper, Anders Lindegaard has been on trial this week as a potential long-term replacement for Heaton, but it is unclear whether or not he will be ready for tomorrow’s fixture.
The back four has been unchanged for the whole of this season and I imagine it will be the same once again. Consistency and stability is what is needed when going up against Liverpool’s dangerous attacking options. The rest of the team should also remain unchanged as Burnley have been blessed with no other injury concerns.
Johnathan Walters has been returning from a recent spell on the sidelines but will probably maintain his position on the bench. Instead, Sam Vokes and record signing, Chris Wood will form a front two who will probably be quietly threating for the foreseeable future. Both players have picked up a couple of goals this season and Wood was scoring at his leisure for Leeds last year. However, I expect their chances to be limited as Liverpool will look to control the game in midfield and Burnley’s defensive mentality will probably let them. Look out for the Welshman and the Kiwi to cause one or two occasional problems though.
Predicted Lineup: Pope; Ward, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton; Brady, Defour, Cork, Gudmundsson; Wood, Vokes.
Liverpool were criticised on Wednesday for their inability to put games to bed and that is something they will have to do in this fixture. Last season Burnley set up very defensively and invited a ton of pressure from the Reds, only to hit out on the counter attack and pick up a 2-0 home victory. Liverpool will need to bag an early goal to force their opponents to chase the game. The absence of Tom Heaton between the sticks will no doubt help and I believe, although it could be nervy at stages, the home side will cruise to a 3-0 victory.