LIVERPOOL VS. BURNLEY
| Saturday, August 21st |
Premier League | Anfield
12:30PM BST/7:30AM EST
Burnley come to Anfield on the back of a 2-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion, a match which started well for them with a James Tarkowski goal in the second minute, but saw them fail to take any more of their chances — and, for once, Brighton took theirs.
Coming to Liverpool, Burnley will be largely unchanged squad-wise. Sean Dyche’s team remain without Dale Stephens in the midfield and Kevin Long in defense as both men are recovering from surgery.
Burnley are coming of a 2020/21 season that was a slight decline for them, both in points achieved (39) and underlying metrics (per StatsBomb), but their style of play remains consistent: they look to attack through high-passes and crosses, and rely on their physicality. Last season’s dip might be attributable to tiredness — the schedule and lack of pre-season affected all teams — but might also be related to the age profile of the players. Time will tell.
Though their form might end up being a bit better this season than last, we know what to expect when it comes to Burnley, and should be prepared.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Henderson, Milner, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Liverpool return to a full Anfield for the first time in over a year (“five-hundred-some days,” said the manager in his pre-match press conference), which should give the team a boost as they face the always-physical Burnley. The Reds will be perhaps even further up for the match as Burnley were the side to end the squad’s unbeaten home run of 68 matches last season (the Clarets won at Anfield 1-0).
Quietly, Liverpool are on the longest unbeaten run in the league if you include the run-in to end last season in your records. The Reds have gone 11 unbeaten, and have won the last six games played consecutively.
As for the starting line-up, Jürgen Klopp will have some decisions to make. Fabinho will be unavailable Saturday due to a family bereavement for the death of his father, but both Jordan Henderson and Thiago might return to the side.
Having Virgil Van Dijk back in defense will help deal with Burnley’s known threats immensely, though the lack of Fabinho is less ideal. We can hope that Jordan Henderson, who played behind closed doors earlier this week, is up for starting a match, as he is certainly the next best thing to Fabinho in the 6.
Klopp will have midfield decisions to make — James Milner is always up for a physical battle and could start his second consecutive match; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s directness might make him a smart choice; Curtis Jones should be cleared to play post-concussion protocols; Naby Keïta looked bright doing all sorts of industrious bits in the league opener; the list is, frankly, quite long — a nice change.
Up front the manager will likely have just the Diogo Jota quandary to deal with: the delightful thing being that I don’t think any of us will complain with any combination of the front four starting.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “There are no guarantees, especially not against Burnley. They make life uncomfortable, defend really well, some really good footballers in the team. Sean [Dyche] is doing a really good job there, they can be annoying as well. Set-pieces, all this stuff. They have a really clear way of playing.”
Sean Dyche: “Last season they had some injuries, lost Van Dijk who is a Rolls Royce player, and we maybe caught the at a slower period and earned the right to win a game. There is no guarantee of doing that again!”
Referee: Mike Dean Assistants: Darren Cann, Mark Scholes Fourth Official: Andy Madley VAR: Stuart Attwell Assistant VAR: Dan Cook
Kickoff is set for 12:30PM BST/7:30AM EST tomorrow. In the meantime, The Liverpool Offside team will keep you updated with all of the team news and match buildup as it becomes available, along with providing a matchday liveblog and post-match recaps and reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.