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1819 burnley turf moor 03 1000x500“I wish we were back in the Championship.” Incredibly, that’s what one Burnley fan said to me last week and then he went on moaning about how we should be seventh in the Premier League again.

I’m sure there is some logic there but it escapes me although one thing supporters do like about the Championship is the fact that we play more games which inevitably brings more midweek fixtures. I’ve always loved them and tonight’s against Liverpool is our only designated home midweek game this season, although admittedly I didn’t enjoy the game against Newcastle nine days ago, moved for television coverage.

It comes at a time when we are in some desperate need of points following Saturday’s dreadful performance at Crystal Palace where the 2-0 defeat meant we’d gone seven Premier League games without a win since beating Cardiff. It also comes at a time when Liverpool are second in the league and are making their way to the Turf on the back of a derby win against Everton just three days ago.

Going into December, the season hasn’t gone the way we might have hoped and I don’t think anyone would have thought we might have had only nine points at this stage of the season, but that’s where we are right now and that’s what we have to improve.

Much has been said of the goalkeeping situation but one player who deserves less criticism than most is Joe Hart who, again, kept us in the game at Palace until that second goal from Andros Townsend.

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Speaking ahead of tonight’s game, Hart said of the Palace game: “Nothing worked for us. We didn’t move as a group, which this team’s famous for. We didn’t really create enough chances, and we were hanging on for the whole game, which is disappointing especially against a team which was in and around us position-wise.

“We’ve addressed it. We’ve talked about it, but talk’s cheap and sometimes it’s great to have that game on a Wednesday night, a few days later, where we can go out and really give it our all.”

He added: “I think we’re quite simple in our approach to things. It’s going to be hard work. It’s going to be good quality shape. It’s going to be creating and taking chances, all the basics. We need to be better in all departments. I think that’s a fair assessment. I think we all appreciate that.

“It’s definitely not through lack of effort but the effort and work we’re putting in needs to go in the right direction. It needs a slight direction shift. This is a really honest bunch of players, who really leave themselves out on the pitch. That’s not being questioned, but everything else is. We can definitely improve on it.”

Hart will line up in goal but who will be in front of him. Will James Tarkowski get a return or will Ben Gibson get his first Premier League action in a Burnley shirt? Steven Defour is unlikely to feature so will that bring a recall for Ashley Westwood. And up front, Chris Wood played on Saturday but what about Ashley Barnes, Sam Vokes and Matěj Vydra. Could any of those players be recalled?

There have been suggestions of changes, and it might have been significant that Dwight McNeil wasn’t included in the under-23s yesterday. I think this one is going to be a guessing game until 6:45 p.m. when the line ups are announced.

We lined up at Palace: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Steven Defour (Sam Vokes), Jack Cork, Aaron Lennon (Robbie Brady), Jeff Hendrick, Chris Wood (Ashley Barnes). Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ashley Westwood.

We are one place from the bottom of the table going into the game, knowing a win would guarantee to take us above both Cardiff and Huddersfield who lost last night. Liverpool, though, are one place from the top and won’t move places no matter what the result given they are five points behind Manchester City and five points ahead of third place Chelsea.

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They are currently the lowest scorers in the top four with just 27 scored, but they have the best defensive record in the league. They’ve only conceded five goals all season. Rachid Ghezzal (Leicester), Eric Lamela (Spurs), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Callum Paterson (Cardiff) and Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) are the only players to have scored Premier League goals against them this season.

They do have some injury problems. Andrew Robertson (pictured above), so close to becoming a Burnley player almost two years ago, and Sadio Mané are both considered doubtful and there are suggestions that Jürgen Klopp could make a number of changes as he rotates his squad.

Against Everton, their team was: Allison, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri (Naby Keita), Roberto Firmino (Divock Origi), Sadio Mané, Mo Salah (Daniel Sturridge). Subs not used: Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Joel Matip, James Milner.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

Burnley had enjoyed a wonderful 2017 but this year didn’t get off to the best of starts with Liverpool coming on New Year’s Day and taking all three points with a goal deep into stoppage time.

Sean Dyche made just one change from the team that had drawn 0-0 at Huddersfield two days earlier; James Tarkowski came back in after completing a three match ban. Jürgen Klopp made no fewer than seven changes to the Liverpool team.

Having remained at 0-0 for over an hour, Liverpool got themselves a very fortunate lead. It was a superb finish from Sadio Mané but only after an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cross had taken a wicked deflection off Charlie Taylor.

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We pushed so, so hard for an equaliser; Liverpool time wasted to their hearts content, but we eventually got the goal that looked to have won us a point. Nahki Wells did really well to win us a thrown in on the left which Taylor too. He got the ball back from Jack Cork and his cross was met by Sam Vokes. His flick found Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson who came diving in at the far post to head home.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added. We’d got through three of them when first Steven Defour and then Phil Bardsley both fouled Emre Can. They hoisted the ball into the box where Dejan Lovren headed towards goal with his fellow defender Ragnar Klavan making sure with a diving header.

It was cruel, we really had deserved to get something from the game but they were Liverpool’s points.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Steven Defour, Jack Cork, Scott Arfield (Nahki Wells 86), Jeff Hendrick (Sam Vokes 71), Ashley Barnes. Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Ashley Westwood, Jon Walters.

Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ragnar Klavan, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana (James Milner 86), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Joel Matip 90+6), Sadio Mané (Roberto Firmino 72), Dominic Solanke. Subs not used: Loris Karius, Andrew Robertson, Ben Woodburn.

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