Liverpool will now be confident that they can go on to finish in the top four, as the result of the Chelsea vs Leicester City game will open the door for them. However, supporters will be worried that they will struggle to break down Burnley and Crystal Palace, two teams that will be stubborn like West Bromwich Albion. The Reds have struggled in matches against teams in the bottom six of the Premier League this season. In fact, they lost against Burnley earlier this season at Anfield. They need to guard against complacency.
It has been another good season for Burnley, as they were never really in danger of getting relegated. Sean Dyche almost guarantees survival, despite limited investment in the playing squad. It will be great to see supporters back in the ground and Burnley have given the tickets away for free, encouraging fans to make a donation to charity instead. This is a great move by the club. The cynics will suggest the new owners are trying to get an early PR win, but even so, it is a fantastic gesture. More clubs should have followed suit.
The Reds were minutes away from a frustrating draw and it would have summed up their season. However, a remarkable header from Alisson Becker keeps their fate more or less in their own hands. Jurgen Klopp will demand more from his players in the final two fixtures, as they can’t rely on a late winning goal from their keeper again. Although top four won’t be an achievement compared to previous seasons, it will represent success in a challenging year for the club. It also keeps them at the top table and that will be important in their continued development under Klopp.
Burnley haven’t won in their last nine home matches, which is their longest run without a home win in the top-flight.
Since signing for Liverpool, Mohamed Salah has scored 125 goals across all competitions. During this period, no Premier League player has scored more.
It has been another excellent season for Chris Wood as he once again scored more than ten Premier League goals. Considering he has been playing for a Burnley team that isn’t free scoring, he has to be seen as one of the most reliable strikers in the bottom half of the division. Although Dyche is central to the success at Burnley, the New Zealand forward has a big part to play in their success. During the second half of the season, he has built a good relationship with Matej Vydra and that has been key in the team getting the points required to stay up. He will want to finish the season on a high and add to his 12 goals. It will be tough against a team chasing a top four finish, but Liverpool do have two inexperienced centre backs. Wood will relish the chance to go up against them.
There has been a lot of talk about attackers underperforming at Liverpool this season, but that criticism can’t be directed at Mohamed Salah. Despite the team’s struggles, he has remained a constant goal threat and he goes into the final two games level with Harry Kane on 22 goals. He managed to score at the weekend with an excellent left-footed finish. The Egyptian is underrated by some, considering his consistency at the very highest level. Klopp won’t trust his defence in the final two matches, but he will trust Salah to get the goals required to ensure a top four finish. The attacker will have one eye on the golden boot, but his main focus will be making sure his side finish in the Champions League places.
Nick Pope is a major doubt for the final home game of the season. Robbie Brady, Kevin Long and Dale Stephens remain on the sidelines.
Diogo Jota won’t feature again this season, due to a foot injury. James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be involved, while the rest of the injured players are unlikely to play again this campaign.
This is going to be a difficult test for Liverpool, as Burnley will put in a better performance than they managed against Leeds United. Dyche will make sure his players are up for the game in front of their fans and Liverpool struggle against sides in the bottom six. They should have enough attacking quality to get the job done, but I don’t expect it to be comfortable.
Burnley 1-2 Liverpool