There is nothing like victory to assuage fears and calm nerves in the world’s most popular sport by some distance. If that is accompanied by sufficient style and requisite ruthlessness, it would be most gratefully received. While there is no crisis or reason to engage in tortuous soul searching, is there a curious cause for concern when recent, sobering setbacks have been far too familiar?
Although there have only been eight competitive games this season, Liverpool appear to be a better version of last year's vintage albeit with the same weaknesses. The attack is sharper, but the rest of the team remains the same. A somewhat rejuvenated Alberto Moreno may or may not be an upgrade on James Milner, but uncertainty in key defensive areas at the back continue to plague this outfit.
Clearly, Jürgen Klopp is a top manager with a good team that should push to match last season’s fourth-placed finish. After beating Arsenal 4-0 before the international break, Liverpool were hammered 5-0 by Manchester City and nearly lost at the death in the 2-2 draw with Sevilla. Each game had its own set of circumstances that could be interpreted as misfortune, but the opening goals illustrated that there is still work for Klopp and his coaching team to do. Some of it, however, may require fresh faces in order to produce satisfactory solutions and make the next step.
Tomorrow will test whether certain tactics can still frustrate and even best Merseyside’s finest. Burnley return to the top of Liverpool’s inbox with memories of last season's defeat at Turf Moor still fresh in the minds of Anfield acolytes across the globe. Sean Dyche will ensure that his team will be organised, stay compact, and attempt to exploit weaknesses in the home team's backline.
For Liverpool (4-3-3):
Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Coutinho
Sadio Mané begins his three-match suspension after his purportedly controversial red card against Manchester City. Philippe Coutinho looked completely off the pace and may benefit from another appearance from the bench. Jordan Henderson and Emre Can produced woeful performances on Wednesday as the Anfield crowd despaired at such poverty in possession. Both midfielders might benefit from sitting this game out with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner set to be chief beneficiaries. Trent Alexander-Arnold may step in for Joe Gomez, who had a good game despite being sent off, to provide some attacking thrust down the right.
Ben Woodburn could be worth a start simply out of form and fitness, but the stage is set for Coutinho's return. Simon Mignolet will probably return as Klopp's goalkeeper rotation continues, but Dejan Lovren is almost certain to retain his place after yet another example of disastrous defending. There were some fine performances from Alberto Moreno, Joël Matip, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, and Roberto Firmino. As a result, all five should retain their places for the visit of Burnley. Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana remain long-term absentees.
Tom Heaton is out for four months after dislocating his shoulder against Crystal Palace on Sunday. Successful shoulder surgery provides some solace, but the credentials of Nick Pope will be examined tomorrow. Anders Lindegaard, formerly of Manchester United, has started training with Burnley with a view to being a short-term replacement for Heaton. The prolific Chris Wood will retain his place in attack, but Jonathan Walters—a regular thorn in Liverpool’s defence—is doubtful.
Burnley have already beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and picked up a point at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur to sit in seventh spot with seven points from four games. This is not a team to be underestimated.
Kickoff is set for 3PM BST/10AM EST tomorrow with no coverage in the UK. Elsewhere, Optus Sport in Australia, Sportsnet in Canada, DAZN Europe in Germany, Star Sports Select HD1 in India, SuperSport3 Africa in Kenya, Astro SuperSport 3 in Malaysia, SuperSport 3 Nigeria in Nigeria, 102 (HD) mio Stadium in Singapore, SuperSport 3 in South Africa, and NBC Sports Gold in the US are carrying the match. Talksport 2 Radio UK and LFCTV Go provide online options to follow the game. 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.