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Time to Put Points on the Board

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Liverpool can take advantage of rivals’ FA Cup participation by beating Burnley at Anfield.

Liverpool v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Anfield welcomes Burnley next, and with that game, the true spoils of the rousing home win against Arsenal will be known. Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield 2-0 only to falter at the King Power Stadium to hand Leicester City a much-needed 3-1 victory. It was yet another example of Liverpool’s maddening inconsistency under Jürgen Klopp this season.

Beating a second North London club at Anfield has given Liverpool a second chance to forge ahead and make a real push for a place in the top four. It also casts further doubts over the managerial future of Arsène Wenger and Arsenal’s capability to compete in big games. Manchester City and Tottenham aren't too far ahead of the Reds, but winning successive games for the first time in 2017 would put some pressure on Arsenal and Manchester United as both will be involved in FA Cup matches this weekend.

The opportunity to go five points ahead of fifth and six ahead of sixth at this stage of the season must be taken, especially as the pair will have two games in hand. Manchester United have four other teams to play in the top six while Arsenal have three in their remaining 12 games, one of which is against each other. The apparent discord in Arsenal’s camp may not be as encouraging as the Europa League campaign that José Mourinho has to consider with a third of his team’s remaining league fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham, and Chelsea—only one of those are at Old Trafford.

The problem for Liverpool is that the supposed favourable fixtures in the final ten games are littered with teams that could very well to prove far more difficult than they should be. Liverpool will not have many better chances to display their intention to be difficult to dislodge from a place in the top four. Only Manchester City and Everton are left for Liverpool to step up in a big game, but the other nine fixtures will be a test of consistency and conviction against a group of teams that mostly lie in the bottom half of the table.

Georginio Wijnaldum’s beaming smile in celebration after securing all three points against Arsenal felt important, but it won't be as vital as it could and should be if points are dropped against the first team to expose what has been a noted weakness this season. Four of Liverpool’s five league defeats have come against teams that started the game in the relegation zone, and while Burnley are safely in midtable, their away record is simply abject—the worst in the Premier League.

How bad is Burnley’s away record? It's a winless one with just two draws and eleven defeats. Beating Burnley at Anfield shouldn't be a statement of intent, but with the way 2017 has unravelled combined with the current circumstances surrounding a chase for Champions League football, it incredibly is just that.