With Liverpool winning the league with almost a fifth of the fixtures to be played, there was a fear that their remaining fixtures will be devoid of a lot of interest and passion. However, if the past three games are anything to go by, these remaining fixtures are anything but dull. With Sean Dyche’s Burnley visiting Anfield on Saturday afternoon, the fear of a dull fixture might return, especially given that the Clarets are not in a relegation scrap. However, this game too might surprise us as two teams that have achieved their season targets are trying to attain higher glories.
Liverpool have achieved 92 points so far and are 8 away from the coveted century of Premier League points. While those points do not add more trophies to all those that the Reds have won this season, a strong finish to the season would go a long way in stating their intent for the next season. As they continued their momentum from last season into this one, Klopp will want to build momentum towards the end of this season. Then there is the small matter of individual records. Mohamed Salah is one goal away from being the first since Roger Hunt to score 20 or more goals in three consecutive seasons for the Reds. He is also chasing the Golden Boot, as he is 3 goals behind the leading goal scorer Jamie Vardy and one behind Aubameyang. Alisson too is in the hunt for the Golden Glove, just one clean sheet behind his likely counterpart on Saturday – Nick Pope. It is safe to say that Liverpool will be sufficiently motivated on Saturday.
Burnley on the other hand are surrounded by unlikely neighbors (at the time of writing), as they are currently 9th with 49 points, one less than Arsenal and one more than Tottenham. Although they are not struggling to stave off relegation this season, the lure of European season will keep them enticed. Having won 1-0 at the London Stadium against West Ham, Sean Dyche would want to keep the momentum going, albeit it would be a completely different game altogether. Their run-in includes Wolves (next), followed by Norwich and Brighton, which means that if Burnley do get enough wins in these remaining games, then they would vying for a Europa League spot next season.
- To say that Liverpool have been dominant against Burnley is a slight understatement. The Reds have won 82% of their Premier League games against Burnley (9/11), their best winning ratio against a side they have faced at least 10 times in the competition. Burnley have not won at Anfield since 1974 and have taken just one point from their last 18 available away against Liverpool.
- Not that the opponents matter to Liverpool, as long as they are playing at Anfield. Liverpool’s current unbeaten home run in the Premier League stands at 57 games, while the Reds have won each of their last 24 at Anfield in the competition. In those 57 home games, the Reds have scored 149 and conceded just 32 goals.
- A win on Saturday will see Liverpool equal the record for most home wins in a single Premier League campaign (18), while it will also put them one game away from becoming just the second team in top-flight history to win 100% of their home games in a single season, after Sunderland in 1891-92 (13/13).
- It is not all doom and gloom for Sean Dyche’s team. Burnley have won 14 Premier League games this season, equaling their best season for wins in the competition in 2017-18. They last won more in a top-flight season in 1974-75 (when they last won at Anfield), winning 17 on their way to finishing 10th.
- With four games to still play for, Liverpool have won 30 Premier League games this season, equaling their best ever tally from a single top-flight campaign (1978-79 and 2018-19). It is a safe bet that they will surpass that tally this season.
Sadio Mane (and Firmino) love to play Burnley. Both have scored four goals in their last three Premier League games for Liverpool against Burnley. Both scored a brace in this exact fixture last season as the Reds won 4-2. With an xG90 of 0.49 and a xA90 of 0.22, his attacking threat is more than apparent. Those expected numbers mean that if he plays a full 90 minutes, he has ~70% chance of contributing a goal. Having scored 16 already, he too will be motivated to hit that benchmark of 20 league goals for the season. Klopp will hope that this hunger is enough to overcome the defensive Burnley setup.
Burnley have surprised this season with the number of clean sheets (14) they have managed. Their goalkeeper, Nick Pope, has had a major role to play in that achievement and fittingly he currently leads the race for the Golden Glove. The last English goalkeeper to keep more than 14 clean sheets in a season was Joe Hart in 2015-16 for Manchester City. With 3.57 saves per 90 minutes from 5.19 shots against per 90 minutes, Pope has clearly been in top form this season. Dyche will want that to continue on Saturday.
For Liverpool, Jordan Henderson is unlikely to feature on Saturday after suffering a knee injury in the 3-1 win against Brighton on Wednesday night. James Milner returned at the Amex Stadium but Dejan Lovren remains doubtful, while Joel Matip’s season is over. Naby Keita is enjoying a rare run in the starting XI and given his performance on Wednesday, should continue that run. Up front, Minamino might come in for Firmino who has been goal-less at home. Sadio Mane should be back after being rested during the midweek.
For Burnley, Ben Mee has missed the last two games with a muscle injury and his season seems to be likely over as well. He might be joining Jack Cork and Matthew Lowton who are also not expected back till next season. Chris Wood could make his first start since the restart. Eric Pieters might get another start on Saturday to add greater defensive solidity.
While their away form was circumspect, at home Liverpool have been one of the most dominant teams in the top five leagues in Europe. It is difficult to see Burnley overcoming them at Anfield. Saturday should bring a routine victory for the Reds at home.
Liverpool 3 – 0 Burnley