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I suppose at any time the toughest game of the season is the visit to the home of the champions and while said champions Liverpool are have had a quieter time in the last few weeks it will be as tough a game as we are likely to experience.

Let’s face it, we are not going there as a team in form either, definitely not when it comes to our away form. We’ve won just once in the first nine away games of the season, that at Arsenal, and while we’ve only conceded fourteen goals, we’ve only hit the opposition net four times and three of those came in early season defeats at Leicester and Newcastle.

Seven away goals, one goal and that came from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s own goal and while we might not expect too much of a change in our fortunes at that end of the pitch tonight we will be hoping to continue with our good defensive record which has seen us currently having conceded less goals than the league leaders Manchester United. Only eight teams have conceded less than us and four of those teams have conceded just one less.

Nick Pope made his 100th Burnley appearance at West Ham; tonight he’ll make his 100th start and at Anfield where he got his first start back in September 2017 having come on as a substitute for his Burnley league debut in the previous game against Crystal Palace.

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Pope has been in excellent form again for the Clarets and ahead of tonight’s game he said: “We’ve done some good things recently without getting a result, so it’s about keeping those good things and turning the corner and the results will come.”

He added: “We’re still feeling good. I think performance wise we’re not far away from turning the good performances into good performances with points. Mentally we are in a good place. We’ve just got to take that onto Thursday and realise the margins are small. One goal defeats could easily have been different and it will turn for us if we keep doing the right things.”

As the injury situation improves, it’s been reported that Charlie Taylor is available again with only Jimmy Dunne, who has a minor injury, and Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who is isolating, ruled out.

I think there are queries in three positions. Will Taylor come back for Erik Pieters? Will Dwight McNeil get a start after his second half at West Ham? Will there be changes up front? I think Taylor and McNeil will come back in but I’m not sure what Sean Dyche might have planned for the forward positions.

If he sticks with Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, then we could line up: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Robbie Brady, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes: Subs from: Will Norris, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Erik Pieters, Jack Cork, Dale Stephens, Josh Benson, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra.

At this stage last season, Liverpool had 49 points with only two dropped at Old Trafford against Manchester United. This season they are on 34 points from the same number of games in what is looking much more like a contest at the top of the Premier League.

That they are not in the same sort of form as last season shouldn’t be taken as them not being a good side any longer. Incredibly they haven’t won any of their last three games. They drew at home against West Brom last time out at Anfield. Only Burnley took a point there last season, West Brom became the first team to do so this season while Manchester United followed that up in their next home game. Between those two games they won only one point in two away games at Newcastle, where they drew 0-0, and Southampton, a 1-0 defeat.

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That’s three games without scoring but in the game before that they netted no fewer than seven at Crystal Palace so they are very much still a team very capable of beating Premier League opposition convincingly.

Liverpool will be without Diego Jota. He’s out for a few more weeks yet. Defensively, Virgil van Dijk has been a big miss but they have some good news with Joel Matip (pictured) back in full training. He could play tonight.

Last time out against Manchester United, they lined up: Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Andrew Robertson, Thiago Alcantara, Georginio Wijnaldum, Xherdan Shaqiri, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino. Subs: Caoimhin Kelleher, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones, Minamino, Divock Origi, Rhys Williams, Nathaniel Phillips, Neco Williams.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

I’m sure Burnley fans would have loved to have been there last season. We arrived at Anfield for our penultimate away game of the season to take on a team who hadn’t dropped even a single point at home in 18 months. Although we were in good form, and had won both of our previous two away games at Crystal Palace and West Ham, the odds were against us.

Liverpool were undoubtedly the better of the two teams in the first half. We defended brilliantly and when they did get through us there was Nick Pope on top form. “It’s nice to help out now and again,” he said afterwards.

He was beaten once, by Andrew Robertson’s excellent header and we went in a goal behind. We were still that goal behind when we had the second half drinks break but what a response on the restart. It all restarted with a free kick which he played up to the left hand side of the Liverpool box. James Tarkowski headed it down, Jay Rodriguez was on it, turned and fired a superb shot into the corner past the helpless Alisson.

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Liverpool tried to get back at us, they thought they might have had a penalty, but it was us who came closest to winning it when substitute Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson smashed a shot against the bar.

What a result that would have been, but drawing there was a brilliant result and was right up there as one of the best results of the season.

The teams were;

Liverpool: Alisson, Neco Williams (Trent Alexander-Arnold 69), Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Fabinho, Curtis Jones (Naby Keita 69), Georginio Wijnaldum (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 81), Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané. Subs not used: Adrián, Dejan Lovren, Harvey Elliott, Takumi Minamino, Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi.

Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Erik Pieters(Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson65), Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Chris Wood (Matěj Vydra 65). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jimmy Dunne, Anthony Glennon, Mace Goodridge, Josh Benson, Robbie Brady, Max Thompson.

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