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1920 burnley turf moor 02 1000x500Liverpool are our visitors tomorrow, the team who have started off the season better than anyone else and sit top of the league with nine points from their opening three games.

It’s not been a bad start for us either. Having won against Southampton on the opening day of the season, we faced two very tough away games against Arsenal and Wolves. We arrive back at the Turf tomorrow having won just the one point from those two games but I’m sure most people would agree that the performances deserved more. Although not the better side at Arsenal we could easily have got a draw and last Sunday at Wolves was so disappointing at the end when that soft penalty gave the home side a point they were so very fortunate to get.

It’s not quite or best start to a Premier League season. We won six points from the first three games a decade ago, having beaten both Manchester United and Everton, but it is the second time we’ve secured four points from the first three games in a Premier League season under Sean Dyche; the other occasion was two years ago when we beat Chelsea and drew at Spurs in the first two away games.

On that occasion, four points became seven from the first four games, but that sort of return is a tough ask this time with Liverpool, undoubtedly now one of the best two teams in the country, in opposition.

But we’ve beaten these top teams before. Both Manchester clubs and Spurs (twice) have lost at the Turf in the Premier League and we can add Liverpool to that group from our 2-0 win against them three seasons ago although they have beaten us on all the other four occasions.

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It’s a tough ask but one to look forward to and Jack Cork said ahead of the game: “It’s a game you can look at and people are thinking ‘Liverpool are going to win this game’. You’re thinking ‘if we do well, we know we can get something from it’.”

He added: “It’s always nice to play against the bigger teams. There’s something different, special. It’s a good challenge and a good test. It’s good to test yourself against the best players in the work and there’s nothing better than the current European champions. You can’t look past that now. We know it’s going to be a difficult game.”

Cork will be in the midfield tomorrow. He’s only missed one Premier League game since signing from Swansea in the summer of 2017 although he spent the ninety minutes on Wednesday as an unused substitute as we went out of the League Cup.

Sean Dyche made ten changes for that game and I’m expecting him to make nine changes from that game for tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll revert back as close as he can to the team that’s started all of the three Premier League games so far although he will have to make one change with Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson ruled out with a calf injury. He’ll join Steven Defour and Robbie Brady on the unavailable list although Brady is close to a recall and played in a behind closed doors game this week.

I would think Aaron Lennon will come in for Guðmundsson in an otherwise unchanged team so I expect us to line up: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs from: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Danny Drinkwater, Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra.

It could be a special day for one of our players. Should Ashley Barnes score he’ll become the first Burnley player since George Beel to net in the first four league games of the season.

Back in the 1970s and 80s, Liverpool dominated English football, firstly under the inspirational management of Bill Shankly and then the even more successful Bob Paisley. At the time it seemed almost impossible that they would ever be knocked off their perch but they were to the point where they still can’t claim a single Premier League title.

They’ve been close but never as close as last season which they incredibly ended with 97 points and only one defeat yet still fell a point short of Manchester City, the only team to beat them. Although they didn’t win it, they did get their hands yet again on the Champions League trophy having beaten Spurs in an all English final.

They beat us twice last season, despite us going in front against them in both games and we triggered off a remarkable run of wins when we fell to a defeat at Anfield last March. Seven days earlier they had drawn 0-0 across Stanley Park at Everton but beat us 4-2. Incredibly, that draw at Goodison is the last occasion they dropped a Premier League point.

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The 2018/19 season ended with nine successive wins and that’s continued this season with three out of three and they currently lead the league by two points with Manchester City having drawn against Spurs a couple of weeks ago.

Everyone talks about the top six, but that top six, I think right now, can be split into a top two and the next four and I don’t see the title going anywhere else but Manchester City or Liverpool who I expect will pull clear again as the season progresses.

Jürgen Klopp is expected to make only small changes to the Liverpool team. He said: “There is no reason for resting players at the moment. It is about finding rhythm, finding the mood again, that w do the right thing in the right moment. It is not the moment for a lot of changes.”

He has an almost fully fit squad to select from but he will still be without goalkeeper Alisson (pictured), who was injured in their opening game against Norwich, and Naby Keita who is still a couple of weeks away from fitness. Besides that pair, Nathaniel Clyne is ruled out long term.

Liverpool’s team in their most recent game, the 3-1 home win against Arsenal, was: Adrián, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mané, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino. Subs: Caoimhin Kelleher, Joe Gomez, James Milner, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

Things weren’t going too well for us when Liverpool came to Burnley in early December. We’d picked up one point from the previous six league games, that in a 0-0 draw at Leicester, and sat next to bottom of the table with only Fulham behind us. Even Huddersfield were two points clear.

Liverpool were exactly where they finished, in second place and at the time were two points behind Manchester City.

It meant five of our first seven home games had ended in defeat but this was without any doubt a much better performance and gave us hope that things might be on the up despite the 3-1 loss.

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Sean Dyche had reacted to the bad run of results. Out went Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Aaron Lennon, Jeff Hendrick and Steven Defour who were replaced by Phil Bardsley, fit again James Tarkowski, Ashley Westwood, Robbie Brady and Ashley Barnes.

This was much better from Burnley and we were every bit as good as Liverpool in a goalless first half and then shocked them nine minutes after the break by taking the lead.  It came from a corner that Jack Cork eventually turned home as the ball ran loose.

Unfortunately we didn’t hold the lead long enough. Eight minutes they equalised through James Milner and a further seven minutes on saw Roberto Firmino score with his first touch to put them in front.

Right at the end, things went against us. Alisson was able to save a Ben Mee header in stoppage time but in doing so he carried the ball out for a corner. It wasn’t given, he was allowed to play on. He threw the ball out quickly, they caught us on the counter and Xherdan Shaqiri made it 3-1.

Another defeat, but this time a standing ovation. This had been a much, much better performance from Burnley.

The teams were;

Burnley: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Robbie Brady (Aaron Lennon 71), Ashley Barnes (Matěj Vydra 83), Chris Wood (Sam Vokes 71). Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Jeff Hendrick.

Liverpool: Alisson, Joe Gomez (Trent Alexander-Arnold 23), Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Alberto Moreno (Mo Salah 65), Xherdan Shaqiri, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Divock Origi (Roberto Firmino 66), Daniel Sturridge. Subs not used: Simon Mignolet, Rafael Camacho, Fabinho, Adam Lallana.

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