Sean Dyche arrives at Anfield this Saturday with his Burnley team, to what will be sure to be a full, vibrant and excitedly noisy returning crowd.
Simon Brundish (part of the Under Pressure Podcast team) regularly and eloquently states that if you beat the dross, you win the league. After Burnley’s opening day loss at home to Brighton, Dyche will be eager to register his first points of the season. Their 2-1 home defeat is in stark contrast to Liverpool’s opening day exploits, who arrived at Norwich to take all three points in a comprehensive 3-0 win. Both results are not surprising, yet could set our sides (Liverpool & Burnley) on a path of regularity if winner & loser repeat last weeks efforts.
Liverpool’s first game of the season was quickly followed by a behind closed doors training game, against an Aston Villa XI. Both skipper Jordan Henderson & Thiago Alcantara played good minutes, as late returning players, to make themselves available for this match. Given Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s under par performance versus Norwich & James Milner’s advancing years, we may well see Fabinho start with the impressive Naby Keita and one of either Thiago or Henderson. Either would work, and it could be a simple case of who is more ready, with both likely to play at least some part. A keen eye will be on their match versus Chelsea the following week, and Klopp will want to make sure his players are ready.
Roberto Firmino may well come in for Diogo Jota, in a nice scenario where playing for places may well bring the best from all the forwards. The rest of the side should remain unchanged, it what could be an intriguing attack v defence affair.
Burnley have to rethink their approach this week, and look to work the second ball in both midfield and Liverpool’s half. With a reds midfield still finding its legs, they should look to be direct as well as delivering as often as possible into the box. Ashley Barnes may come into contention, and the 4-4-2 formation will be incorporated. Whether or not Sean Dyche’s comments on intending to attack the reds was to be believed, they should certainly expect long periods of defensive play. Dyche is very impressive in setting up with two banks of four, and will look to limit space in and around the Liverpool attack. Burnley will no doubt look to catch Liverpool cold early on, so a rusty Virgil Van Dijk will need to be alert from kick off.
The match looks routine given both teams starts, though Liverpool are still working there way through the gears, and may air on the side of caution, so as not to go behind. I expect Liverpool to come through healthy winners, and it will be interesting to see Thiago (at some point) operate with actual senior defenders behind him. If Liverpool are to stamp their authority once more, these games need to be won, and won convincingly.
Liverpool 4 – 0 Burnley