Premier League Preview: Burnley v. Liverpool

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Liverpool can set a club record with victory over Burnley as the two sides meet at Turf Moor on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET, live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

The Reds are gunning for 13 straight top-flight wins, something never been achieved before in the club’s history. Liverpool currently stands as the last remaining 100% league record in any of the top six tiers of English football.

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The last time Liverpool failed to record victory in top flight action was back in early March, a 0-0 draw with nearby rivals Everton at Goodison Park. Their last loss in Premier League play was all the way back in early January, a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City that famously featured a Liverpool goal ruled out by goal-line technology by the tiniest of margins, setting the stage for Man City’s ruthless run to the title.

The Reds are mostly healthy, with just Naby Keita and Alisson sidelined due to injury. The former is still recovering from a hip flexor strain and will reportedly not be fit until after the international break, while Liverpool’s first-choice goalkeeper is still on the mend with a calf problem that Klopp would not commit to a timetable, only saying Friday during his pre-match press conference that it is a “proper injury” and “it will take some time.”

Burnley will be without Johann Berg Gudmundsson, whose calf injury is less serious than initially feared but still troublesome enough to hold him out this weekend. Robbie Brady and Steven Defour are also likely missing from action for the Clarets. The start to the season has been a mixed bag for Burnley, who sit on one each of a win, loss, and draw in that order. A 1-1 result against a solid Wolves side last time out will prove promising, despite the match featuring two points dropped as the opponents scored deep into stoppage time to share the spoils.

However, an embarrassing loss to Sunderland in League Cup last time out will leave manager Sean Dyche looking for a reaction, with yet another defeat in league play turning what has been a fairly solid start to the season somewhat spoiled, while a shocking result against an in-form Liverpool side would provide a valuable spark. History is not on their side, having picked up just four of a possible 30 points all-time against Liverpool in Premier League play.


Injuries/suspensions

Burnley – OUT: Robbie Brady (rib), Steven Defour (calf). QUESTIONABLE: Johann Berg Gundmusson (calf).

Liverpool – OUT: Naby Keita (hip flexor), Alisson (calf).


What they’re saying

Burnley midfielder Jack Cork on playing the best teams: “It’s a good challenge and a good test. When you’re young and growing up you want to be playing against these sort of teams; you dream of playing for the Liverpools and Manchester Uniteds. It’s good to play them and say ‘I’m good enough to do this at this level.’ It’s good to test yourself against the best players in the world and there’s nothing better than the current European champions. You can’t look past that. We know it’s going to be a difficult game.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on previous confrontation with Sean Dyche: “Probably everybody will write that it didn’t look like Sean Dyche and I were best friends after the last game. It was an intense game, Joe Gomez got injured, we had a couple of discussions. But both coaching staff, myself and Joe are just proper competitors, so we don’t hide our emotions obviously. That can happen. But from my point of view, it was always completely respectful because I respect them and I respect Sean a lot, what he is doing there, to keep a team like Burnley really always on that level of motivation, determination and desire and all that stuff. It’s so difficult and they are doing that.”


Projected lineups:

Burnley: Pope; Pieters, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton; McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Lennon; Wood, Barnes.

Liverpool: Adrian; Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson; Mane, Firmino, Salah.


Prediction:

While Sean Dyche won’t face the same dilemma Arsenal botched last time Liverpool took the field in pushing full-backs further up the pitch, this is still a difficult game for Burnley in a slightly different sense. Sure, Liverpool doesn’t look as defensively hardened as they did last campaign, but this is still one of the best back lines in the European game, and Burnley’s attacking options aren’t up for the task. Unless Ashley Barnes can channel his good form to next-level heights, Burnley will fall 1-0 to a good Liverpool attack that will work hard to find a way through and hold firm once going in front.