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liverpool 2 1000x500Burnley travel to Liverpool tomorrow for the first of two visits in fifteen days with the reds of Liverpool tomorrow and the blues of Everton on Sunday 1st October.

A game against Liverpool at Anfield has always been a daunting prospect. We haven’t played there too often over the past forty years in league games but there have been cup games too and such is our record there that when Ashley Barnes gave us the lead last season it was our first goal at the ground since Peter Noble netted a League Cup goal in 1975.

We lost that game last season, as you can see below, so we are still searching for our first point there since the Ian Brennan goal winner. That was so long ago, 24th September 1974 to be exact, it was Liverpool’s first home defeat under manager Bob Paisley who had replaced Bill Shankly that summer.

Things are changing though. Last season, a 0-0 draw at Middlesbrough took our points total on the road to four, the other three having come in draws at Manchester United, Hull and Sunderland. That fourth point came on 8th April, but this season we’ve reached that total before the end of August and from away games at Chelsea and Spurs.

It has not just been at Anfield where we’ve struggled against them. The 1974 victory there was, until last August, the last time we’d beaten them anywhere in a league game, but goals from Sam Vokes and Andre Gray, both netting in the Premier League for the first time, won the day for us.

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Vokes believes we’ve moved on considerably since then. “I think we are a completely different outfit now,” he said. “The experience we have on a personal note and as a team and a club. We are a lot more established in this league and we definitely feel part of it now.

“Don’t get me wrong, people are still going to say Burnley are underdogs in these sort of games, but in the dressing room and within ourselves we know we are going there full of confidence and looking to take the game on.”

Vokes scored twice in the win at Chelsea and in doing so became the first Burnley player to score in four consecutive Premier League games. He hasn’t scored since but last week figured in a front two for the first time when he partnered Chris Wood who was making his first start for the Clarets.

I suspect we will return to a 4-5-1 system tomorrow which would mean Wood or Vokes stepping down and given Wood has scored the two goals recently it could be Sam who misses out. We started the season well with fit again Jeff Hendrick in an advanced midfield role, one which was taken over by Scott Arfield at Wembley just as successfully.

The one change we know we will have to make is in goal. Nick Pope did well when he came on for the injured Tom Heaton last week and it looks very much as if he’s going to be number one choice now for the next few months.

With Hendrick fit again, I think the team could be: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Steven Defour, Jack Cork, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, Chris Wood. Subs from: Adam Legzdins, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood, Scott Arfield, Jon Walters, Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes.

Liverpool are actually behind us in the table right now. They are behind us on goal difference but that is mainly because of their 5-0 defeat against Manchester City last week when they played a considerable amount of the game with ten men following the dismissal of Sadio Mané who will now start a three match ban.

Even so, they are a goal threat, and only the two Manchester clubs have scored more goals than Liverpool’s eight in the first four games which have come from four players. Mané has three of them with Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah both having scored two and the other goal scored by Daniel Sturridge.

Just that list of goalscorers shows you the threat they have going forward and you can add Philippe Coutinho, who is not at Barcelona, and recent signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It must also be noted that the eight goals they have conceded have all come away from Anfield.

At home, they beat Crystal Palace 1-0 and then hit Arsenal for four on the afternoon we were getting a point at Wembley. Liverpool played well that day but Arsenal, it has to be said, were woeful.

But it shows how difficult this game is and with Coutinho expected to get his first start in place of Mané they certainly won’t be any the weaker.

One change that will definitely be made brings a return in goal for Simon Mignolet for Loris Karius who played in their Champions League game against Sevilla. Klopp has also suggested that he’ll rotate between Joe Gomez and Trent Alex-Arnold with the latter expected to play having missed the Sevilla game.

The team could be: Simon Mignolet, Trent Alex-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum, Philippe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino. Subs from: Loris Karius, Joe Gomez, Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Moreno, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Daniel Sturridge, Ben Woodburn.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

This was away game three in a run of four during February and March. We’d deservedly got a point at Hull and almost got another at Swansea until they got a stoppage time winner, although they had been the better of the two sides.

The Liverpool game was always considered to be the most difficult of the four, with Sunderland to follow, but you wouldn’t have thought so given the way we played and, ultimately, the 2-1 defeat was cruel.

When I reported on this game six months ago I suggested it was our best away performance in the Premier League and that was in all our three Premier League seasons.

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We started so well and Ashley Barnes gave us the lead after only seven minutes, turning in a brilliant ball through from Matt Lowton. If we thought that goal would kick Liverpool into life, it certainly didn’t and we looked more that comfortable for virtually the whole of the first half.

But this was Burnley on the road in 2016/17 and once again we conceded a goal in stoppage time, this one at the end of the first half. There was only one extra minute added by Craig Pawson but they got a ball in from the left, Ben Mee slipped, the ball hit him in the stomach and dropped for Georginio Wijnaldum to score from close range.

That was their first effort on target and incredibly their second got them the winning goal when Emre Can scored from distance in the second half and by the end the home fans were impatiently whistling for the final whistle, just as Lowton put our final effort over the bar.

We deserved far better than a 2-1 defeat.

The teams were;

Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan, James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Emre Can, Adam Lallana, Sadio Mané, Divock Origi (Lucas Leiva 79), Philippe Coutinho (Ben Woodburn 60). Subs not used: Loris Karius, Joe Gomez, Alberto Moreno, Harry Wilson, Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd (Robbie Brady 73), Jeff Hendrick, Joey Barton, Scott Arfield (Dan Agyei 90), Ashley Barnes, Andre Gray (Sam Vokes 80). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Ashley Westwood.

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