Liverpool v Burnley
Barclays Premier League
12th Sept 2009
Kick Off : 15:00
Ground : Anfield
Don’t you just love international breaks, waiting on players to return to Melwood imploring they all return fully fit, reading the Spanish match review to ensure Torres didn’t get a foot injury, a hamstring problem, a groin strain, an ankle injury, a thigh strain, a back strain, the list is endless….. while the newspapers are full of stories to unsettle players and question their commitment to our club, any attempt to fill their back pages due to the lack of League football. I read an interesting quote on one of the Sunday newspapers last weekend, “Liverpool, once a club that never washed its dirty laundry in public, is now a soap opera, with Benitez as the central character and the viewers on the Kop waiting for the next episode.” Just think back to last week, everyday we had a story regarding one of our current and ex-players…
Tuesday saw Xabi Alonso speak about his move to Real Madrid, an interview which has been exacerbated by the media. The following day came reports of a Ryan Babel interview to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, “There have been a lot of things promised, but they haven’t been followed up. I would get to play for more minutes and have more chances, but after the first defeat, I only lost my place. I think half a season at Ajax with a view to the World Cup wouldn’t be a bad idea. I can add something to the Ajax squad. Loaning me out this summer was not an option. Now we have agreed to review the situation in January. I see the current situation as a signal that I really have to get playing.”
In the next episode the following day, we heard reports of Albert Riera reportedly admitting to a flare-up with Reds boss Rafa Benitez, then insisting he has got nothing but respect and admiration for the Anfield manager. The news from Anfield the following day again made headline news with construction on the stadium reportedly to begin when the current contraction in the banking industry ends and the global financial markets re-establish their equilibrium according to the Telegraph….
International football, a great time of the season….!
Looking ahead to the weekend fixture, sees Anfield welcome newly promoted Burnley to Anfield on Saturday afternoon. We all remember the comical own goal from Djimi Traore back in January 2005 that helped Burnley stun an inexperienced Liverpool side which booked Burnely an FA Cup fourth-round clash with Bournemouth…. Fortunately we dont have to worry about Traoreanymore…..! At the start of the season, Burnley were many bookies favourites for a quick return to the Championship but their impressive start to the season has plenty of cause for optimism as they enjoy their first top flight season for 33 years.
Liverpool Team News
Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani remains sidelined while Daniel Agger is walking again after a recent back operation and Nabil El Zahr is rapidly improving after suffering a knee injury during pre-season, but both remain out of this game.
I’m expecting Rafa to form the expected back four of Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher and Insua. Our two attacking full backs will be vital to our team on Saturday in our attempts to break Burnley down who like Bolton last week, will probably set up counter attacking as well as containment.
With Mascherano and Lucas away on international duty with Argentina and Brazil, it will be interesting to see if they both make the starting eleven as both players are reportedly back in Melwood on Friday which could mean Gerrard may have to drop back into a more central midfield role with Benayoun in behind Torres….
I’m expecting Rafa to maybe throw in some surprises, remember our 1-0 win over Fulham last season, Rafa spoke of the international double header taking its toll on the players. Mascherano’s excursions left him fit for only a place on the bench while neither Riera nor Babel started with Dossena instead playing on the left of midfield…
Depending on whether Aurelio is back to full fitness we may see Aurelio and Gerrard form the midfield. Aurelio speaking to the clubs official website on Wednesday commented “I’m feeling good and I am working hard to try and get back into the squad for Saturday, the international break came at a good time for me because I’ve been able to work hard and not miss too many more games. I’m going to play in a practice game on Thursday and I hope to prove my fitness and be involved against Burnley. I’ve been training for two or three weeks now and I can’t wait to get back.”
However, I personally dont think Rafa will start Aurelio on Saturday, I’m expecting Lucas to take Mascherano’s place with Gerrard moved back to midfield, Rafa may even opt for young Damien Plessis or Jay Spearing in central midfield!
Whoever plays upfront with Torres will have to create space for Torres and use the ball well to ensure they find Torres’ early runs in behind the defence, Torres has an all round game to trouble any defence with his pace, dribbling, ability in the air and clinical finishing.
Liverpools Premier League Top Goalscorers
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Burnleys Team Prediction
As mentioned earlier, its been 33 years since Burnley enjoyed a top flight season. Therefore, this week on Redkopi, we got the views of Andy Smith and Jamie Smith, editors of www.fansonline.net/burnley ahead of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League clash at Anfield.
Jamie, How do you expect to see Burnley Approachour upcoming game with regards team formation and tactics?
Despite playing 4-4-2 throughout pre-season we’ve lined up in a fluid 4-5-1/4-3-3 for all our league games this season. It’s worked at home where we can press the opposition, and with vociferous home support on our side, but away we’ve struggled to keep possession and make chances. Owen Coyle might change it around a bit – he certainly has plenty of options up front with the addition of David Nugent as well as Stevie Thompson who has been unlucky not to play much this season after finishing last term strongly. We famously try to win every game, and I expect that philosophy to continue even if we take a few more beatings like the Chelsea defeat. Tactics will be to pass and move the ball quickly around the park. We tend to pack the midfield a little so there are usually plenty of options, and Wade Elliott and Chris McCann are two players that can get in very dangerous positions from midfield. But one of those two might be tasked with marking Steven Gerrard, as the consensus is that if you keep Gerrard quiet – you keep Liverpool quiet.
Andrew, Jamie mentioned Burnley have lined up in a fluid 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation for all your league games this season. Is it likely that Coyle will keep faith with his 4-5-1 formation and if so what is your Burnley team prediction…..?
Owen Coyleonly plays one way and that is on the grass and to win every game without exception. He is very good tactically and has players that are comfortable playing in various positions, so alternating players, positions and formations during games is fairly easy. We will play a 4-5-1 come 4-3-3 although I would personally describe the formation as 4-1-4-1 due to our holding player dropping off a little bit especially away from home to give us cover. Two of our players across midfield are out and out strikers and one is a winger, so they are very attack minded when going forward and that is our biggest strength. Most of our games tend to be end to end with good pace and we kept that up for 61 games last season.
Andrew can you give a brief description of each player from your predicted starting 11…
Players more than likely to start are the following, but the loan signing of Nugent may alter things. I expect Nugent to be on the bench though.
Brian Jensen (Beast) – (Goalkeeper)
The guy is massive and has improved enormously since Coyle arrived. He can now command his area whereas before he would never leave his line. Best attributes are one on ones, penalties and shot stopping. He gets down fast and low which is odd for such a big lad.
Stephen Jordan – (Left Back)
Ex-Man City full back is under pressure to keep his place due to the arrival of a couple of young full backs and not a crowd favourite. Personally I rate him and we need his experience at this level. Cool head and no nonsense type of defender.
Tyrone Mears – (Right Back)
New signing with top flight experience. Very fast and gets forward as often as possible. Good passer of the ball and knows how to score. Works well with the winger going forward, but can get caught out a few times.
Andre Bikey – (Center Back)
Another new recruit from Reading. Bought after the defeat at Stoke and went straight in to the team with our Captain Steven Caldwell out through injury. Man mountain that gets stuck in with plenty of pace which is something we never had in the centre of defence last season. Prone to the odd moment of madness though.
Clarke Carlisle – (Center Back)
Another withtopflight experience and cool head. Solid no nonsense defender that wears his heart on his sleeve. Very consistent player that is good in the air and is good for attacking set pieces.
Graham Alexander – (Center Midfield)
Left back turned midfield anchor man, play maker and the oldest player in the league. At almost 38 proved last season that there is still plenty in his tank. Apart from being substituted 25 minutes from the end of one game, he played every minute last season for 61 games.
Chris McCann – (Center Midfield)
Young player that came through the youth ranks and has the potential to be a star player at this level. Progressed well each season and is a classic box to box player with a big engine. Has an eye for goal and a fantastic football brain for a young lad. One to look out for.
Wade Elliott – (Center Midfield)
Naturally a right winger with pace and lots of tricks that moved to the centre of midfield midway through last season due to new players arriving at Burnley. Very talented player that scores from anywhere including the 60 million pound play off final winner and the winner against Everton. Can cross a ball as well has anybody and gained most assists 2 seasons running n the Championship.
Robbie Blake – (Left Wing)
Natural striker now playing on the left wing to push forward on the attack to make it 4-4-3. Played at this level with Bradford and Birmingham and this is his last chance to make a name for himself. Very very talented player and complete striker. Lethal at dead ball situations, drawing free-kicks and playing the killer ball. Huge fans favourite.
Steven Fletcher – (Right Wing)
Record signing and bought as a striker, but recently he has been switched with Martin Paterson whom was playing on the right and is also a striker. Looks the part so far. Cool under pressure and holds the ball up well. Yet to score a league goal this season, but it is coming.
Martin Paterson – (Striker)
Leading goal scorer last season. He is the kind of player every fan likes to see. Never stops running and keeps the pressure on defenders for 90 minutes. Fast, strong and potent finisher. Still learning his trade, but his spells out wide will have given him a lesson on where he needs to be to get on the end of a cross.
Jamie, Who will be the the main Burnley player for Liverpool to keep an eye on and why?
Depends how we line up really. If Coyle keeps faith with his 4-5-1, Robbie Blake is the key player. When he’s on form, he’s virtually unplayable, none more memorably so than when Spurs came to the Turf for the second leg of the Carling Cup semi and he ripped their team apart. But if Gerrard lines up on the right, Blake will have alot of defensive work to do on the flank, and he’s far better up the pitch and in possession of the football. Other plays to keep an eye on are the aforementioned Elliott and McCann, as well as record signing Steven Fletcher, who looks to have a great touch, but has snatched at his chances so far, although he bagged two at Hartlepool from the bench in our Carling Cup game there. One league goal could open the floodgates for him though. Here’s hoping anyway.
Andrew, are there any areas of weakness in Burnleys team and formation in which Rafa will be aiming to exploit?
Pace usually beat us last season, but that seems to have been addressed now with defenders added that do have pace to burn. Due to us being attack minded we can get caught on the break. At Chelsea in our previous game, we started by taking the game to them and did not finish 2 great chances which cost us. Chelsea then came at us and we never really got out of our own half mainly due to not keeping hold of the ball. Hopefully a lesson will have been learned and we will keep the ball better. If we can keep it, then I see the game being a free flowing one that will be good to watch and plenty of chances at both ends.
If you go all out and attack us, we may sit back and stay tight for a while looking to catch you on the break, but I doubt it. That would be the normal mentality of a team in fear especially after a good beating last week, but Owen Coyle is very good at motivating players, getting the best out of them and instilling huge belief and confidence in the players own ability.
Last season we showed no fear against Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, West Brom and Fulham. We beat the lot of them and it was not the reserve sides apart from the young guns. Maybe we were taken lightly and if teams do that to us this season we will punish them. I think Man Utd and Everton gave us no respect and just thought they needed to turn up. Man United were pretty poor and constantly tried the through balls. Some got through, but Jensen is too big a guy to beat 99% of the time for one on ones. Everton in a word were rubbish. We should have been 3 up after 10 minutes, but for the bar and poor finishing. They rarely threatened to open us up and the only time they did Leon Osman took a dive that made the recent Eduardo farce look like a stone wall penalty. Justice was done and Saha got the players tunnel and the nets mixed up.
Our main weakness so far this season was shown up by Stoke, so maybe the best way for you to beat us is to hoof the ball 100 foot in the air every time you get it.
Finally Jamie, How’s Burnleys form ahead of the game?
Too early to talk about form four games in really, but we’ve played some good stuff and looked capable, despite the step up. Obviously we’re pointless away from home but we would have expected to be at this stage, as we expect to lose at Anfield too. At home we pressurised Everton and United and they couldn’t cope with our approach. We fully deserved both wins and will, I think, win enough games at the Turf to give us an excellent chance of staying up. We don’t really expect to get many points on the road, but you never know, and if Liverpool are as dodgy as they’ve been so far this season, we could spring another surprise.
Many many thanks to Jamie Smith and Andrew Smith – editors of www.fansonline.net/burnley for their indepth analysis, greatly appreciated! I truly hope you avoid relegation this season as Burnley are a wonderful club with a great support base, heres to many more years of Burnley – Liverpool Premier League encounters!
Liverpool – Burnley : Last 5 Meetings
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Referee : Lee Mason
Assistant referees : Scott Ledger and Mo Matadar
Fourth official : Mike Jones
Liverpool 3 – 1 Burnley. Big things are expected from Liverpool this season and these will be the type of games where three points is a must. These are the type of games Liverpool struggled to secure all three points in last season, their well-documented seven draws at Anfield is an area which needs a vast improvement on. Liverpool will have learnt from previous encounters with Stoke, Fulham and Hull last season but for me this should be a comfortable enough victory for Liverpool ‘if’ they can grab an early goal… After the home defeat against Aston Villa we need a big performance at Anfield….
Stay tuned to Redkopi and TIA over the coming days for match updates and news….
Redkopi – The Eye of the Red Kop