Newcomers Burnley? Easy-peasy perhaps Liverpool players think. Well, they better think again. The Clarets has got a better record than the Reds in the last seven games so it´ll be everything but a simple match at Turf Moor this afternoon.
As we all know not a single match in the Premier League is comfortable. Every team is always giving the other one trouble. No exception at Turf Moor today. Given that, Liverpool should win. We are gunning for a top four place while Burnley is hoping to get out of the relegation zone.
But in recent times Burnley has been better than us in picking up points. In their last seven games they have amassed eleven points while Liverpool managed just eight. Burnley is also unbeaten in four straight home games. A record for the Reds to be aware of.
The Turf Moor gang started the season really bad but is getting used to the higher level more and more. We all know about Liverpool´s indifferent form this autumn, although it could now be on an upward curve. The Burnley game is a perfect opportunity to check out how much truth there is in Liverpool´s talk about a turning point after the Arsenal game. Also a fitting examination of our top four credentials. If we can´t beat Burnley then my hope about a successful assault on Champions League places will finally evaporate. I have given up hope before but as any ardent fan you slowly but surely always put the latest bad result in the back of your mind and the closer you get to the next match hope comes creeping back. But this time Liverpool must get the win, if not, then it´s defenitively too late to recover for the team and for supporters to believe in a happy end in May.
On paper, the Burnley job is the easiest this season. The Clarets has just won three out of 17 matches and only found the net on twelve occasions. At the same time they have let in 26 goals. Liverpool has been goal-shy this season and generous at the back but Burnley has been even worse. The Reds should be able to take advantage of the home team frailties and at the same time continue to improve themselves. If we can play to our best ability, as we were close to do versus Arsenal, then Burnley will be resoundingly beaten.
Our two latest meetings with Burnley has ended in 4-0 Red wins. A similar score-line now would do the world of good to the Liverpool self-confidence. I think the team is able to score four if the first goal is an early one. Then mental knots and blocks will disappear and Liverpool can really express themselves offensively. But to score early has hardly been our best feature this season and to keep a clean sheet is another failing aspect to our game. So I would settle for a 2-1 win, three points is the main thing right now.
This time the Reds don´t have worry so much about the opposite attack. Liverpool can field a fairly attack-minded line-up. I would go for this one (in a 4-1-4-1 formation):
GK: Brad Jones. RB: Javier Manquillo. CB: Kolo Toure. CB: Mamadou Sakho. LB: Alberto Moreno. DM: Emre Can. RM: Adam Lallana. CM: Steven Gerrard. AM: Philippe Coutinho. LM: Lazar Markovic. CF: Raheem Sterling.
I think Martin Skrtel needs a rest and Sakho to get some matches under his belt. Hence the change. I also think that Lucas Leiva is losing form a bit and that Emre Can deserves a shot at the defensive midfield position. Sterling has been no more than average in the striker role but he can have another chance.
It´s been lot of talk about manager Brendan Rodgers recent new formation 3-4-3. Is it good, bad, here for the long haul or just a test? (By the way, it´s more like 3-2-4-1 or 3-3-3-1 rather than 3-4-3). In my book the best formation in football is 3-5-2, but that requires the right guys for the job. Liverpool doesn´t possess the type of defenders necesseary for a back three so right now a back four is a more logical and safer choice.
A couple of days ago I pointed out that the Burnley encounter is the first in a six match sequence where Liverpool need to pick up at least 15 points to have a realistic chance of getting to top four. So today a victory is a must when:
We Go Again.