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    Liverpool vs Burnley Match Preview


    Liverpool have the chance to capitalise on their top-four rivals' participation in the FA Cup when they entertain 12th-place Burnley on Sunday afternoon.

    The Reds are the only side in the top-six in Premier League action this weekend and victory over Sean Dyche's side would create a five-point gap between themselves and 5th-place Arsenal, although the Gunners would have two games in hand.

    Burnley have adjusted well to life in the Premier League after their three previous campaigns in the top-flight resulted in relegation and will be looking to achieve a league double over Liverpool for the first time in 87 years.

    Liverpool

    Jurgen Klopp's side remained firmly in the race for a place in next season's Champions League with victory over Arsenal last weekend, which was made possible by a dominant first-half performance.

    Liverpool's high-tempo start was far too much for Arsenal to cope with in the opening 45 minutes, with the home side's pressing game denying The Gunners any time and space to perfect their usual passing rhythm.

    The win was also vital for restoring confidence following the lackluster defeat at Leicester five days earlier, by the same 3-1 scoreline, which Klopp described as the club's 'worst game' of the season.

    While Liverpool's high standards have never dropped against the Premier League's top-six sides, winning five and drawing four of their nine matches, the club have struggled this season against the lesser lights

    This was perhaps most evident on the second weekend of the season when despite having 80 per cent of the possession, they were unable to break down a well-drilled Burnley defence while switching off defensively on two occasions.

    If Klopp's side are to win on Sunday, they will need to replicate the intensity levels they showed last weekend for the whole 90 minutes and not repeat the defensive errors that led to defeats earlier in 2017 against Swansea, Hull and Leicester.

    In the absence of Dejan Lovren, the club's defence stood firm in the face of a thorough second-half examination against Arsenal last weekend and they must show similar resistance against set-piece specialists Burnley this time around.

    Burnley

    Burnley are on course to secure top-flight safety for the first time in 42 years after a triumphant return to the Premier League, despite being 10/11 favourites to be relegated at the start of the season.

    The Clarets' success this campaign has been made possible due to having a strong and cohesive defence, while the club possess one of the best home records in the Premier League
    with 29 of the club's 31 points coming at Turf Moor.

    The form of Michael Keane has been key to Burnley's success this season, with the former Manchester United defender earning a call-up to the England squad this season as a reward for his calm and assured performances.

    Sean Dyche's team have not managed to replicate their devastating home on the road, with two points secured from a possible 39, although the club did frustrate Manchester United at Old Trafford in October to come away with a 0-0 draw.


    While Burnley have not been free-scoring in their return to the top-flight, Andre Gray (9) and Sam Vokes (7) have chipped in with some valuable strikes including a goal-apiece in the 2-0 win over Jurgen Klopp's side in August.

    It is likely that Dyche will employ similar tactics on Sunday to the ones which worked so successfully that day, with an emphasis on denying Liverpool time and space on the ball and putting the home side's often-scrutinised defence under pressure from set-pieces.

    A Clarets victory would make history on Sunday as no Burnley team has achieved the double over Liverpool since 1930, while the club's last win at Anfield came in 1974 when Ian Brennan scored the only goal in a 1-0 triumph.

    Liverpool Team News

    Dejan Lovren is in contention to make his first appearance since January after recovering from a knee injury, with Ragnar Klavan likely to make way for the Croatian international.

    Roberto Firmino is a doubt for Sunday's clash having missed training this week with a muscle a problem but there is still a chance he could be passed fit ahead of kick-off.

    The Reds will definitely be without captain Jordan Henderson, who misses a third consecutive game with a foot injury, and Daniel Sturridge, who has a hip problem.

    Ovie Ejaria (ankle), Marko Grujic (hamstring), Adam Bogdan and Danny Ings (both knee) all remain on the sidelines with Bogdan and Ings likely to be out for the remainder of the season.

    Burnley Team News

    Tom Heaton will return to the Burnley starting line-up after missing last weekend's defeat at Swansea City due from illness, while Joey Barton is also available having shaken off a hamstring strain.

    The Clarets will still be without Steven Defour for a sixth consecutive game, with the Belgian international still not fully-recovered from the hamstring injury he picked-up against Leicester on January 31.

    Johann Berg Gudmundsson is also absent once again with a medial knee ligament injury, which has caused him to miss the recent 1-1 draw at Hull and 3-2 defeat at Swansea.

    Dean Marney had already been ruled out for the remainder of the season after he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during the defeat to Arsenal on January 22.

    Head-to-head

    Liverpool have won their last eight successive matches against Burnley at Anfield, with the visitors last tasting victory at the ground in September 1974 when defender Ian Brennan scored the only goal of the game.

    Burnley did secure a 0-0 draw at Anfield 15 months later, while The Clarets have fared much better at Turf Moor over the past few decades with five wins, four draw and three defeats from 12 encounters.

    Sean Dyche's side beat Liverpool 2-0 at home earlier in the season, breaking a run of four consecutive wins for The Reds which all came in Burnley's two Premier League relegation campaigns of 2009-10 and 2014-15.

    Liverpool have dominated the all-time head-to-head with 51 wins and 27 draws from 115 matches, with the first meeting between the sides taking place at Turf Moor nearly 123 years ago.

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 2-0 Burnley
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Burnley Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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