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liverpool 2 1000x500It’s not been the best of days for us with all of Brighton, Newcastle, Southampton and Cardiff winning. It’s left us fourth from bottom of the Premier League again and facing the daunting task of a trip to Anfield to face a Liverpool side chasing their first title in 29 years.

My first visit to Anfield to watch Burnley was for the FA Cup tie in January 1969. We were robbed by a shocking refereeing decision when he wrongly disallowed a Frank Casper goal that would have given us a 2-0 lead. We lost the game 2-1.

Other than the game four seasons ago, which ended in a 2-0 defeat, I’ve seen every game we’ve played there since. My first league visit, in the season after the cup tie, ended in us getting a 3-3 draw and, of course, there was Bob Paisley’s first ever home defeat as manager when we won 1-0 with an Ian Brennan goal.

Since that night, every league game we’d played there until last season had ended in defeat until we earned ourselves a point from a 1-1 draw with a Scott Arfield goal, and that’s a result that would be very welcome tomorrow.

We’ve four away games left this season and we still have to go to Chelsea, but this is surely the most difficult of them given that Liverpool are second in the table and are unbeaten at Anfield in each of the last two seasons. The last time they lost a home Premier League game at home was in April 2017 when Crystal Palace beat them 2-1 with a couple of goals from their former striker Christian Benteke. We were losing at home against Manchester United on the same day with Joey Barton playing his final game for us.

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It’s not just about tomorrow’s game. Left-back Charlie Taylor said: “We know what we need to do between now and the end of the season. We’ve got some tough games, but we’ve got some games at home where we want to take points, and we hope we can do that.”

Taylor has been a virtual ever present this season. He’s started all but three of the 29 Premier League games, a total bettered only by Ben Mee and Jack Cork, and in the three he didn’t start, the first three games, he was used as a substitute, twice coming on for Stephen Ward and once for Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson.

Ward is fit again but has had to make do with a place on the bench recently and I would expect that to be the same again tomorrow. Sean Dyche hasn’t quite got a fully fit squad to select from but he’s only without Steven Defour and Aaron Lennon.

Will there be changes? If so, they are likely to come in the wide areas with Guðmundsson and Robbie Brady champing at the bit to get back in to the slots that have been taken recently by Jeff Hendrick and Dwight McNeil.

I don’t envisage any other changes unless there are injuries or illness we don’t know about and if he sticks to the same team we will line up: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs from: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Ben Gibson, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra, Peter Crouch.

Manchester City’s win this evening against Watford has taken them four points clear of Liverpool at the top of the league. It’s been a while since Liverpool were that far behind them, if behind them at all, and will need a win tomorrow to close that gap and keep the pressure on City as they chase a first ever Premier League title.

Liverpool’s only defeat this season came at the Etihad in their first game of 2019. Had they won that night they’d have gone ten points clear, but they lost 2-1 and since have drawn three of their seven games, two away at West Ham and Manchester United and at home against Leicester.

They’ve been bang in form since at home with 3-0 and 5-0 wins against Bournemouth and Watford but last time out they were only able to draw 0-0 in the Merseyside derby at Everton.

At home they clearly pose a major threat. They’ve only conceded seven goals on their own patch all season and three of those were astonishingly conceded against Crystal Palace although they did win that game 4-3. Andros Townsend, James Tomkins and Max Meyer scored those goals and the other four goals against them have been scored by Callum Paterson (Cardiff), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal) and Harry Maguire (Leicester).

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Ashley Barnes leads the scoring for us this season in the Premier League with nine goals. Roberto Firmino has scored the same number for Liverpool while that total is some way behind both Sadio Mané and Mo Salah (pictured) who have scored 14 and 17 respectively.

Dejan Lovren is set to return to the Liverpool side after injury and James Milner could also be fit although he does have a muscle issue. Joe Gomez is on his way back after the unfortunate and accidental injury he sustained at Turf Moor but this game will come too early for him as it will Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who played this week for the under-23s after returning from a long term injury.

There have been suggestions that Jürgen Klopp will make changes from the team that drew at Everton. They lined up at Goodison: Alisson, Joel Matip, Andrew Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mo Salah, Sadio Mané, Divock Origi. Subs: Simon Mignolet, Roberto Firmino, Xherdan Shaqiri, Naby Keita, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana, James Milner.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

It was early last season, the third away game of the season to be exact and we’d already won at Chelsea and followed that up with a 1-1 draw against Spurs at Wembley. Just as we’d done at Anfield in the previous season, we went 1-0 up, but this time they didn’t come back to beat us although they were level within three minutes with those two goals completing the scoring in the first half hour.

Sean Dyche opted for a return to his 4-5-1 formation but with Jeff Hendrick unavailable, the role behind the single front man went to Scott Arfield who came in for Sam Vokes. The other change, one that had been made as a substitution in the previous game, saw Nick Pope get his first Premier League start with the seriousness of Tom Heaton’s injury having been confirmed.

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On 27 minutes, Arfield gave us the lead, finishing well after Chris Wood had got a touch following a header in from Robbie Brady. The excitement didn’t last long enough. Emre Can played a superb ball forward for Mo Salah, who got the better of Stephen Ward, to fire home and the all predictable Anfield story looked set to be told again.

Not so, although it has to be said that the home side dominated play in the second half. But we stood firm, kept them to very little in terms of goal opportunities, and when they did our new goalkeeper in excellent form. He made one very good save and one exceptional save but between those two saves we twice came close ourselves through Ben Mee.

We had to endure some late pressure without them really creating much but it was still a relief when the final whistle blew for a fifth point in three away games. Even the BBC appreciated how well we’d played; Phil Neville on Match of the Day said our performance was unbelievable with brilliant defending.

The teams were;

Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan, Andrew Robertson, James Milner, Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho (Dominic Solanke 78), Mohamed Salah, Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 79). Subs not used: Loris Karius, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum.

Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Ashley Barnes 60), Steven Defour (Ashley Westwood 87), Jack Cork, Robbie Brady, Scott Arfield, Chris Wood (Sam Vokes 87). Subs not used: Adam Legzdins, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Jon Walters.

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