Well, well, well. How did you get on last weekend? Did you follow my tips for the Arsenal match? I suggested that both teams defensive frailties coupled with Liverpool’s pre-season strength meant that Both Teams To Score coupled with a Liverpool win might bring you a decent return. I didn’t expect both teams to score that many, of course!
I also pointed out that over 3.5 goals was available for 9/4 with some bookies, so if you took that tip then well done to you. This weekend sees the Reds endure their second of three away fixtures. The match against Burnley was supposed to be at Anfield, but the work being done to The Main Stand means the club applied to the Premier League to have it swapped over and everyone was happy enough with that. So how will we get on against the Clarets?
The same medium to long-term injuries as last week look as they’re no closer to resolving themselves for Jürgen Klopp. Loris Karius remains out with a broken finger, Joe Gomez is unlikely to be back from an achilles problem any time soon and the same can be said for Mamadou Sakho. In his press conference earlier today Klopp suggested that this game might just come too soon for Lucas Leiva, though where he’d play in this new look Liverpool side is anyone’s guess, frankly.
One of the most worrying pieces of news this week came in the form of Sadio Mané being taken to hospital with a suspected broken collar bone. He was involved in a tackle in training that saw him land awkwardly on his shoulder. Thankfully it has proven to be bruising, so he’s only like to be out for one game rather than something approaching four months.
The good news comes in the form of those that the German can welcome back to the fold. James Milner and Daniel Sturridge both returned to full training this week, though the rumours swirling around the Twittersphere were that Sturridge was fit to play last week but the manager declined the opportunity to use him. Regardless, he’s definitely back and likely to be in contention for at least a place on the bench against Burnley on Saturday.
Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan were both in reasonably good form against Arsenal, which is a bit of a weird thing to say when you consider that we conceded three goals. I’d expect them to retain their places, however, unless Klopp wants to see how Joel Matip gets on against a so called ‘lesser opposition’.
Alberto Moreno came in for almost never-ending criticism in the aftermath of his performance at The Emirates. Certainly Gary Neville and the lads at Sky did a number on him during the game and social media has been awash with negativity over the Spaniard in the days since, to the point that the Liverpool Echo ran a poll to ask if it counted as bullying. Regardless, word on the street is that James Milner with move into the left-back spot.
One bit of news for Burnley is that Jon Flanagan is ineligible to play in Saturday’s match due to the rules surrounding loan players not being able to line-up against their parent club. That said, he didn’t even make the bench for last weekend’s game against Swansea so he may well not have started anyway.
The only other slight bit of injury news for the Clarets is that Ashley Barnes is out of the game suffering from a hamstring injury. The 26-year-old striker is the only obvious absence for Sean Dyche, who can otherwise field pretty close to a full-strength side. Will that be enough to stop the Mighty Reds? Let’s have a look at the form of both sides.
Arguably the most exciting and talked about game of the opening weekend of fixtures saw Liverpool play Arsenal off the park for fifteen minutes in the second-half before allowing those old defensive frailties to creep back in. A 4-3 win is not something to be sniffed at, especially not away to the Gunners who the Reds had only beaten once in their last sixteen away games against. Certainly of the two teams it will be Liverpool who will be the more confident over Burnley after their performance against Arsenal.
Burnley suffered a 1-0 home loss to Swansea on the opening day of the season, hence the confidence that Liverpool will doubtless be feeling ahead of the match. The Clarets can’t be too hard on themselves, though, as no newly promoted team had won on the opening day of the season since West Ham beat Villa back in 2012.
Does any of that give us any clues about how the game will go and how we should place our bets? Maybe. Let’s have a look.
Stronger At The Back
Arsenal’s defence was known to be weak before a ball had even been kicked at the Emirates last week. Liverpool haven’t looked consistently solid in defence since the days of Rafa Benitez. No surprise, then, that there were goals galore on the opening day.
I’m expecting this match to be a lot tighter, however. Klopp is a former defender himself and he won’t have been pleased to have seen his team capitulate in such a torrid manner after storming to a 4-1 lead. Dyche, meanwhile, is known to be a defensive minded manager. ‘The Ginger Mourinho’ was his nickname, so you know what sort of performance his side are going to put in; especially after he watched Liverpool tear Arsenal to shreds last week.
I think it’s going to be a close game with only a goal or two in it. Liverpool to win to nil* is 6/4 in some places and that seems a sensible punt to me. If you disagree and think the Reds are going to go on another rampage then you can get 21/10 for us to score 3+ or 6/1 for 4+. I actually hope I’m wrong, but I think that’s wishful thinking this weekend.
Who’ll Get The Goals?
I do expect Liverpool to score and I do expect us to win, too. The only real question for me is who will get themselves on the scoresheet at Turf Moor?
The absence of Sadio Mané will give Klopp cause to shuffle his pack. The big question will be whether he decides to opt for Daniel Sturridge or Divock Origi in the starting line-up. Last week I said that Origi would come off the bench towards the end of the game against a tired Arsenal defence and was worth a punt as First Goal Scorer. His determination to threaten Petr Cech’s goal at every opportunity nearly made me look like a genius, too.
Klopp is determined to ensure that Sturridge isn’t rushed back before he’s ready and that we don’t become dependent on him, so I reckon it’s going to be Origi and he’s 11/8 to be an Anytime Goal Scorer*. If you agree with me but you want longer odds then he’s 5/1 as First Goal Scorer.
The other person I think has a fair chance of getting off the mark scoring-wise is Jame Milner. If the rumours are true that Klopp plans to play him ahead of Moreno as left-back then he’ll also be our penalty taker and I think that Burnley will play with a deep-line. Players like Coutinho, Wijnaldum and Origi will push them back and cause them problems and Milly is as high as 6/1 to be an Anytime Goal Scorer.
I think it’ll be tight, but I’m confident of the Reds having six points on the board by the end of Saturday afternoon.