Burnley vs Liverpool
| Wednesday, December 5th |
Premier League | Turf Moor
7:45PM BST / 2:45PM EST
Fresh off the ridiculous derby day dramatics of Sunday, it’s back to reality for Jürgen Klopp’s Reds, as they travel to less glamorous environs at Turf Moor in a bid to keep pace with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Notoriously stingy and overperforming Burnley have come crashing back down to earth this season, and after climbing into seventh place and European competition on the back of a sensational defensive record last year, the Clarets now sit second from the bottom on nine points, having conceded 29 goals in 14 matches.
Now in his 7th year as Burnley manager, gravelly-voiced Sean Dyche has stuck to his minimalist guns in Lancashire, but the magic appears to have dissipated, and where the famously stubborn 4-4-1-1 used to frustrate more illustrious opponents in close games, there has been more of a shooting gallery this year, and Burnley have been blown out by four or more goals in three of their last six outings.
Sam Vokes remains an intimidating presence up top, and the pace of Aaron Lennon and trickery of Ashley Barnes mean that the Clarets won’t be entirely unthreatening, but if Liverpool are to fulfill their ambitions of giving City a run for the title this year, three points at Turf Moor is a necessity.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Keïta; Shaqiri; Salah, Sturridge
Games come thick and fast in December, and Bournemouth are right around the corner, before a season-defining visit from Napoli on Tuesday and a prestige clash with Manchester United next Sunday, so Klopp will need to manage his players’ fitness carefully in the coming month. As such, Roberto Firmino, looking jaded in recent weeks, must be given a rest, which opens the door for Daniel Sturridge to start, while Xherdan Shaqiri could replace Sadio Mane suffered a cut on his foot in the derby and is doubtful for Wednesday night.
In midfield, Jordan Henderson and James Milner look likely to return, while the time seems ripe for Naby Keita to get his first start since the Manchester City draw two months ago. The impressive Joe Gomez could also be given a rest, both for his own fitness’ sake, and to keep Dejan Lovren sharp ahead of the holiday schedule.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “Burnley is a tough place to go. We have to make sure we are ready. They had a killer competition, Europa League qualifiers in the summer, but now are 100% focused on the league. There are no easy games.”
Sean Dyche: “Sometimes there’s a bottoming out period, and I am hoping we’ve got past that stage. Everyone says ‘we’ve got more than that’ and we have got more than that, I’m sure of it.”
The Officials (POL)
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistant referees: Richard West, Derek Eaton
Fourth official: Mike Dean
Kickoff is set for 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, 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 the action as it happens.