After Liverpool's pulsating 4-3 away victory over Arsenal to kick off the season, an interesting problem and question is posed by newly-promoted Burnley: can Liverpool consolidate gains made in big games against the Premier League's purported lesser lights?
Jürgen Klopp's side will not experience any home advantage until after the international break when the reigning Premier League champions visit Anfield. Although the capacity to score goals is pleasing and enthralling, the reliability of the defence will be key to picking up points away from home consistently. Early fixtures will be a test of the Liverpool's defensive organisation and resilience.
Nonetheless, victory away to Arsenal is a rare occurrence and should be celebrated. The way Klopp's side dismantled Arsène Wenger's team in a dizzying second half spell should serve as a warning to teams. Sean Dyche’s side possess an awful record against the Reds. No goals scored and 11 conceded in their last four games against Liverpool combined with an opening day defeat against Swansea City could make this an extremely difficult encounter.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3):
Clyne / Lovren / Klavan / Moreno
Lallana / Can / Henderson
Wijnaldum / Firmino / Coutinho
Sadio Mané's shoulder injury may not be serious but should rule him out of the game with a possible return against Tottenham Hotspur the following weekend. His performances over pre-season and against Arsenal make his loss significant. Perhaps the biggest question, left back position aside, will centre on the identity of the Senegalese international's replacement.
With Sheyi Ojo out for a month with a back fracture and Lazar Marković out of favour, perhaps Georginio Wijnaldum will be pushed further upfield to make necessary room for Emre Can in midfield. Divock Origi could also be utilised in tandem with Roberto Firmino, resulting in a change of formation. James Milner (ankle) and Daniel Sturridge (hip) should return to the matchday squad after recovering from their respective injuries, giving Klopp different options should he choose to shuffle his pack.
Loris Karius, Lucas Leiva, Mamadou Sakho, and Joe Gomez will all miss the game. Liverpool currently have the most injuries in the Premier League, something that might continue to be a problem over the course of the season. A reduced schedule without European football, however, should ensure that the players have enough recovery time from matches and enormous physical demands.
For Burnley, striker Ashley Barnes is out until late August with a hamstring injury and left back Stephen Ward is doubtful. Jon Flanagan—on loan from Liverpool—will miss out according to the terms in his loan agreement. Will club-record signing Steven Defour feature in midfield? The 28-year-old Belgian is the type of signing Burnley need to compete, and for fans desperate for the Lancashire outfit to be more competitive in the transfer market, this is surely a good sign.
Burnley played some good football in their last Premier League stint in 2014/15 with Danny Ings leading the line. A noble relegation will hopefully be avoided by a club that tries to do things the right way. A 4-4-2 formation was deployed against Swansea with Sam Vokes and the dangerous Andre Gray up front. Will Burnley stick with two strikers or pack the midfield? This could be an ideal game to start Defour to get him accustomed to Premier League life.
For Liverpool, the task is to continue to attack with verve and verticality without the defensive lapses that made the scoreline against Arsenal far closer than the game suggested. In both halves at the Emirates, Liverpool showed an impressive capacity for stymieing attacks and controlling space defensively. Unfortunate lapses in concentration and organisation will be a work in progress. Burnley may not be as good as Arsenal but will not roll over.
Kickoff is set for 3PM BST/ 10 AM EST tomorrow with no television coverage in the UK. NBC Sports Live/NBCSN will cover the game in the US. Elsewhere, Optus Sport and SBS One Australia in Australia, Sportsnet World Now and Sportsnet One in Canada, SuperSport 3 Africa, SuperSport Select 2 Go, and SuperSport Select 2 in Kenya, Astro SuperSport 3 in Malaysia, and Eleven Plus Singapore in Singapore are carrying the match. You can find full listings at LivesoccerTV.
We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.