After three draws, a defeat and a win in their last five Premier League fixtures, the reigning champions are in a bit of a slump. While their 7-0 win against Crystal Palace in mid-December seemed to signal a return to their expansive best, Liverpool have scored only one league goal since then.
Industrious, compact and used to spending long spells out of possession, Burnley are an attacker’s nightmare. It’s no coincidence that their last four fixtures have ended 1-0, though three of those have been narrow defeats for Sean Dyche’s side.
Liverpool desperately need a win this evening and, if they give a good account of themselves, they should get one. They may need to be patient, however, and their finishing will have to be much improved.
Asked to assess the challenge posed by Burnley in his pre-match press conference, Jurgen Klopp said: “When you look at the goal difference, I think it’s nine [goals for and] 22 [goals against]. That means obviously they didn’t score a lot of goals but they don’t concede a lot as well.
“So that just shows us how tough the game will be, but it was always like this against Burnley: a proper fight, second-ball fight, defending the channel balls, defending the intensity – Burnley puts in a specific intensity – and all these kinds of things.
“They play a specific way and I really respect that. They do it for years and Sean is always able to squeeze really good performances out of the squad, even when it’s not the biggest squad in the world and of course if they have injuries that hurts them maybe even more than other teams.
“But that’s the situation, they know that [and] they deal with it very well and we have to face it.”
Dyche, meanwhile, played down Liverpool’s recent difficulties in front of goal. “Struggling in their world is slightly different to our world,” he said. “When they are really on it they can find goals from different places.
“I am not overthinking the fact that they are maybe not as free-flowing, because they are still winning and getting points. We have to be on top of ourselves and our performance.”