Liverpool host relegation-threatened Burnley at Anfield on Sunday lunchtime, in what classifies as a must-win game in the Premier League title run-in.
Liverpool vs. Burnley
Sunday, March 10, 2019 – 12pm (GMT)
Referee: Andre Marriner
The Reds were disappointing last weekend, drawing 0-0 at Everton and rarely testing their Merseyside rivals in the second half.
While the result was no disaster in isolation, it left Jurgen Klopp‘s side trailing Man City by a point, with concern surrounding their misfiring attack.
With City possibly four points ahead by Sunday—the champions host Watford on Saturday evening—the pressure will be intense when Burnley visit Anfield.
Sean Dyche is famed for making the Clarets well organised and hard to beat, and it may take patience for Liverpool to prevail.
Burnley have endured a poor season, however, sitting 16th in the table and only five points above the relegation zone.
There are question marks being raised about the Reds’ mettle in the title battle, which is largely nonsensical, but they must return to top form as soon as possible.
At Anfield they remain formidable, not losing on home soil in the league for 23 months, and a repeat of the recent wins over Bournemouth and Watford would be ideal.
This is the first of nine huge remaining league fixtures, as Liverpool search for that most precious of title wins.
A victory would steady the nerves, but dropped points would be a major setback for the season.
This fixture last season: Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
Liverpool are still without Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster, although the trio are all making positive progress.
Oxlade-Chamberlain featured for Liverpool’s U23s on Friday—his first competitive action since suffering a major knee injury against Roma last April—while Gomez is scheduled to return after the international break.
Lovren could be back in the Reds’ squad after two months out with a hamstring injury, while James Milner is hopeful of recovering from a similar problem.
Roberto Firmino is expected to return to the starting lineup, having fully overcome an ankle issue.
The back five of Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson picks itself, with Liverpool keeping five clean sheets in a row.
There is more of a conundrum in midfield for Klopp, due to five players battling for three starting berths should Milner be fit.
Fabinho appears a certainty to feature, with two from Gini Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Milner taking the other spots.
Keita’s more creative style makes him a better option—Wijnaldum could also arguably do with a rest—although Klopp has been increasingly reluctant to give the Guinean playing time this season.
The same applies to Xherdan Shaqiri, who has fallen completely out of favour of late.
Dyche could name the same team that started in Burnley‘s 3-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace last weekend, which reads as follows: Heaton; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Westwood, Cork, Hendrick, McNeil; Barnes, Wood.
Last 5 at Home to Burnley (All Competitions)
Drew 1-1 – September 2017 (Salah; Arfield)
Won 2-1 – March 2017 (Wijnaldum, Can; Barnes)
Won 2-0 – March 2015 (Henderson, Sturridge)
Won 4-0 – September 2009 (Benayoun x3, Kuyt)
Won 1-0 – January 1997 (Collymore)
Did You Know?
Van Dijk is now the odds-on favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award next month, following an all-conquering season at the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
The Dutchman was imperious against Everton last Sunday, outlining why he is regarded as arguably the world’s premier centre-back on current form.
In terms of competition for the award, Sergio Aguero is the second-favourite and former Reds youngster Raheem Sterling is third.
David Silva and Mohamed Salah complete the top five, which may surprise some given the criticism the Egyptian has received of late.
The last defender to win the prize was John Terry in 2004/05, while the most recent defender to scoop the FWA Footballer of the Year award was Liverpool legend Steve Nicol, all the way back in 1988/89.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Drew 0-0 vs. Everton
Won 5-0 vs. Watford
Drew 0-0 vs. Man United
Drew 0-0 vs. Bayern Munich
Won 3-0 vs. Bournemouth
Burnley – Last five results (all competitions)
Lost 3-1 vs. Crystal Palace
Lost 2-0 vs. Newcastle
Won 2-1 vs. Tottenham
Won 3-1 vs. Brighton
Drew 1-1 vs. Southampton
Speaking at Melwood on Friday, Klopp insisted Liverpool have overcome their poor record in early kickoffs:
“I hope we’ve stopped that. I don’t think our record is that bad anymore. Maybe it was and it was for sure because of me, because I was not used to it.
“The first time we played Europa League on the Thursday and then we had to go to Swansea [for an early kickoff], and that was the first time I was tired in a meeting.
“That really doesn’t happen, because I wake up early anyway.
“So that’s gone. We don’t have these issues anymore, I hope [the same] for our people, because we need atmosphere at 12 o’clock.
“I said it for sure last time, if you have a ticket, go to bed at 10 o’clock, latest, on Saturday night, don’t drink and be on your toes from the first until the last second, that’s it.”
Live Blog & TV Info
Liverpool vs. Burnley is live on BT Sport 1 from 11.30am, with kickoff at midday. Sign up to and watch BT Sport here.
Ben Twelves is in charge of This is Anfield’s live blog from 11.15am, hopefully guiding you through a much-needed win for the Reds.