Premier League 2018-19: Burnley v Liverpool - Match preview and predicted lineups
It's December, and midweek Premier League games are upon us again, meaning that crucial matches at the bottom and top of the league are back on the footballing calendar. This game is one such example, as second-placed Liverpool travel to Turf Moor to face Burnley, who are second from the foot of the table. With Manchester City on the road to Watford, this is another must-win for the Reds to keep up with their main title rivals. The Clarets, though, are always a tough side to beat on their own patch, and will definitely be ready to make up for their most recent performance.
Crystal Palace 2-0 Burnley (Premier League)
Burnley sank further into the deep end with a loss against relegation-rivals Crystal Palace. The Clarets fall to 19th with this results and their performance will do little to appease their fans’ desire for better performances on the road. After enduring a siege from Palace, the home side took the lead on 16 minutes, thanks to James McArthur’s deft flick on a cross.
The pressure didn’t relent, but it took until deep into the second period for the Eagles to double their lead, thanks in part to a number of decent saves from Joe Hart, in particular against Wilfried Zaha’s early second-half save. Andros Townsend cut in from the right-hand side and curled a peach of an effort past Hart, nearly breaking the net in the process. A deserved win for Palace and Burnley simply weren’t in the game, the latter will now look nervously over their shoulders.
Liverpool 1-0 Everton (Premier League)
Liverpool required a last minute goal to beat Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday. The Toffees haven’t won at Anfield in the 21st century and haven’t managed a win against The Reds anywhere since 2010, a real bogey fixture for Marco Silva’s side. Both teams traded blows in the first half, Sadio Mane, Jeremy Mina, Moh Salah and Roberto Firmino all having opportunities. The closest chance fell to Gylfi Sigurdsson, but the Icelander couldn't tap in the ball from a few yards, thanks to some incredible defending from Joe Gomez and Allison.
The second half produced more of the same, but Liverpool grew into the game. However, when Divock Origi hit the bar from close range, the Reds would've been forgiven for thinking that was that. Origi, though, had other ideas, a long free-kick from Alexander-Arnold, a miscued volley from Virgil van Dijk, a lucky bounce off the post and Origi headed in past an embarrassed Pickford. Everton appealed, but there was no infringement, they left Anfield empty-handed yet again.
Burnley rarely change their side, partly because they don't possess the depth in quality to be able to get away with making alterations, and partly due to Sean Dyche's preference to keep consistency in his selections. Regardless, England international James Tarkowski returns to start at the back in place of Kevin Long. Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes are also in the reckoning to make the starting XI, but Robbie Brady will miss out with an ankle injury.
Jurgen Klopp has a lot of questions to answer with regards to his team selection, with returning players and fresh injuries to deal with. Sadio Mane suffered a "cut foot" in the Merseyside Derby and likely won't be risked in this one, likewise Roberto Firmino, who was exhausted towards the end of the match.
Coming in to replace the pair is Daniel Sturridge in the centre of attack, and club captain, Jordan Henderson, who is available again after his suspension. Andrew Robertson also picked up a knock against Everton, and James Milner could be the one to replace the Scot, although Alberto Moreno could be the one to start instead.
Key Player: Daniel Sturridge
The question of whether Daniel Sturridge will start on Wednesday is still up in the air, but the Englishman will need a good performance if he's to have a chance of featuring again sometime soon. Sturridge had enjoyed a Reds revival in the first part of this season, but his red-hot form has cooled down since.
Poor performances against the likes of Red Star Belgrade haven't done much to endear him to his manager Klopp, but a goal or two could change the German's opinion. That's very possible as well, with Burnley likely sitting back and attempted to spring the visitor's on the counter-attack, Sturridge will be fed plenty of opportunities from the midfielders and Liverpool's wing-backs, who always bomb on in the wide positions.
Liverpool to return to the top?
Liverpool and Manchester City are the pair leading the Premier League this campaign and are also the only two unbeaten sides remaining in the league. Both the Reds and the Citizens should maintain their records, but City face the bigger challenge, as Watford have pulled off some big results this season so far. In truth, they'll probably both win and the gap will remain at 2 points, with a more crucial game coming at the weekend, as Man City travel to the capital to face Chelsea and Stamford Bridge.
Prediction: Burnley 0-3 Liverpool
After this weekend, Liverpool now officially have the most watertight defence in this season's Premier League so far and I don't see that changing on Wednesday night. Burnley are in poor form and while the Reds aren't on the best run, they should be able to turn over the Clarets with relative ease, even at Turf Moor. Burnley are finding it very hard to score of late, and with Virgil van Dijk in impressive form for Liverpool (picking up the Premier League player of the month for November), they'll do very well to get on the scoresheet here.