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liverpool 1000x500Burnley’s four away match tour, which has already taken in Hull and Swansea, is to continue tomorrow on Merseyside when we play Liverpool in Anfield, the very fixture that caused this long run without a home game.

When the fixtures were released, this game was scheduled to be played on Saturday 20th August, our first away game of the season, but Anfield wasn’t ready and we were asked to switch the fixtures which we did. It worked too, it has to be said, with goals from Sam Vokes and Andre Gray giving us a 2-0 win and our first points of the season.

Since that day we’ve done pretty well at home, adding another eight wins and two draws, but away from home we continue to look for that first win. We did get our second away point of the season two weeks ago; we came within a couple of minutes of a third last week although that would have been somewhat undeserved having been second best to Swansea for most of the game.

This not having won an away game has become something of an obsession for some, and I probably include myself in that given I make reference to it in every match preview for away games, but, at the end of the day, it really is all about how many points we get in total.

Danny Higginbottom, speaking on Sky Sports News a couple of days ago, said: “Burnley could go all season without winning away but it will still have been a brilliant season.” It seems it is only supporters who are starting to get a little bit nervous, more so every time one of the teams below us wins as has been the case today for both Bournemouth and Hull.

Tomorrow will be a tough one, no doubt about that. We’ll probably read somewhere that we haven’t won at Anfield in 42 years. That’s absolutely the case, but we’ve only played three league games there in that time since Ian Brennan scored in a superb 1-0 win to give Bob Paisley his first home defeat as manager.

Michael Keane will be making his 93rd league appearance for Burnley tomorrow, his 49th for us in the Premier League to add to the one substitute appearance he made for Manchester United, coming on for Chris Smalling in a 1-1 draw at Sunderland, just over a week before he joined us.

Keane admitted: “Games like this you have to relish and challenge yourself. These are the games you want to play in as a football and if you come through and do well you’re proving to yourself and to others that you’re good enough for these challenges.”

Asked about the away games, he said: “No away game in the Premier League is easy, especially going to places like Anfield. It’s going to be difficult but we go there with belief that we can get a result, as we do every away game. It’s just not happened for us yet.

“It’s a great place to go and play so we’ll be up for it and everyone is really determined to get over this away form. We don’t really talk about it too much anymore. We have got a lot of points on the board. We’ve done well and no matter how they come, they’ve come our way, but it’s still in the back of our heads and we’re desperate to put it right.”

Burnley will still be without both Steven Defour and Johann Berg Gudmundsson. Defour is edging ever closer to being fit and I’m sure he’ll make the squad for the Sunderland game next week. That might not be the case for Gudmundsson. This current injury will rule him out tomorrow for a third time but he hasn’t played any Premier League football now since the game at Manchester City on 2nd January.

There is good news though. Joey Barton, forced off with a hamstring injury at Swansea, is fit and, with his FA hearing adjourned, he’s available to play against us in his home city. It’s almost two years since he played there and that was also at Anfield in QPR’s 2-1 defeat there in May 2015 when Steven Gerrard scored a late winner with his last Anfield goal.

Fellow Scouser Jon Flanagan will not be in the squad tomorrow. Being on loan from Liverpool means he isn’t available but both Tom Heaton and Ashley Barnes are available again, Heaton returning from illness and Barnes having completed a one match ban. I think both will come straight back in at the expense of Paul Robinson and Sam Vokes who deputised last week.

One other change I believe to be likely is a return to the starting line up for Scott Arfield at the expense of most recent signing Robbie Brady who is likely to be on the bench alongside Ashley Westwood, the other final day signing in the last window.

I expect Burnley to line up: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Jeff Hendrick, Joey Barton, Scott Arfield, Ashley Barnes, Andre Gray. Subs: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Ashley Westwood, Robbie Brady, Sam Vokes, Dan Agyei.

We face a Liverpool side who are currently fourth in the table and who had a sensational 3-1 home win against Arsenal last week. Their home form is formidable with nine wins, three draws and just the one defeat so far; only Spurs, Chelsea and Everton have more home points. Those three home draws have come against Manchester United, West Ham and Chelsea with the one defeat a shock when Swansea won 3-2 at Anfield in January.

With that defeat and the one at Burnley, they have been given something of a reputation for struggling against teams in the bottom half and it is notable that their other three away defeats have come at Bournemouth, where they lost a 3-1 lead, Hull and Leicester. But they will be looking to turn in another good performance and get another good result. Chasing Chelsea at the top of the league looks a forlorn hope now, as it does for everyone else, but they’ll want to be one of the teams to finish in the next three places.

Sadio Mané, who missed the game at the Turf, said about Sunday’s game: “It’s another important game. Now we have to prove we are back on track and back in the winning way, and that we have a great team and great players. We have to give everything.

“It’s one of the most important games of the season. If we want to be in the top four we have to win, starting Sunday, and make our special fans proud.”

Liverpool will again be without their influential captain Jordan Henderson with a foot injury while Daniel Sturridge is also ruled out with a hip injury. There is also a doubt about Roberto Firmino. Manager Jürgen Klopp said of him: “He felt something after the game and until now this week, he couldn’t train. We need to wait a little bit more and then we will see.”

Their team last week against Arsenal was: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Ragnar Klavan, Joel Matip, James Milner, Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum, Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané. Subs: Lois Karius, Ben Woodburn, Dejan Lovren, Lucas Leiva, Alberto Moreno, Divock Origi, Trent Alexander-Arnold.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

Burnley’s previous away game had been the 1-1 draw at Chelsea but this game at Anfield proved to be a difficult night for the Clarets with Liverpool winning the game comfortably 2-0 with goals from Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge.

We struggled from the off. Sturridge brought a save out of Tom Heaton with only seconds gone and Jason Shackell was close to turning a Philippe Coutinho cross into his own goal soon after.

With all eyes on Danny Ings, rumoured to having agreed to join Liverpool in the summer, it was Ashley Barnes who looked the more likely for Burnley but we fell behind just before the half hour when Henderson fired home from outside the box.

Just six minutes into the second half and the lead was doubled when Sturridge headed home a Henderson cross. We fought hard to get back into the game but the closest we came to a goal was a Barnes shot that went wide of the post.

The teams were;

Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno (Kolo Touré 73), Martin Skrtel, Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge (Glen Johnson 83), Raheem Sterling (Rickie Lambert 89). Subs not used: Danny Ward, Jordan Williams, Lazar Markovic, Mario Balotelli.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Keane, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, George Boyd, Scott Arfield, David Jones, Michael Kightly (Ross Wallace 52), Ashley Barnes (Sam Vokes 66), Danny Ings (Lukas Jutkiewicz 89). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Michael Duff, Steven Reid, Stephen Ward.

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