10am, live in the US on espn2
Last 4 head-to-head:
0-1 Burnley (a; FA Cup) 01.18.05
1-0 Liverpool (h; FA Cup) 01.04.97
1-0 Liverpool (h; League Cup) 02.07.95
0-0 (a; League Cup) 01.28.95
Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-2 Bolton (a); 1-3 Villa (h); 4-0 Stoke (h)
Burnley: 0-3 Chelsea (a); 2-1 aet Hartlepool (a); 1-0 Everton (h)
Liverpool: Torres 3; Gerrard, Johnson 2; Kuyt, Ngog 1
Burnley: Blake, Elliott 1
Referee: Lee Mason
Guess at a squad:
Johnson Carragher Skrtel Insua
Benayoun Gerrard Lucas Riera
I’d love to write ‘Same as against Stoke please,’ because there’s a good chance the game could play out similarly, but I doubt the international break will allow it.
Both Lucas and Mascherano probably only returned to Merseyside from South America today. At least Lucas didn’t play for Brazil, so he’s more in contention, but that’s not an easy flight regardless. And it’s worth noting that Mascherano picked up a calf injury playing right after the international last year. Maybe Plessis or Spearing could come in as holding midfielders, allowing Gerrard to remain a nominal support striker, but I’ve got more faith in the players listed above.
If both Masch and Lucas start, the main question will be Benayoun or Riera on the left. Riera adds more width, which is often helpful against a packed defense, but Benayoun’s been in better form. Skrtel played 90 minutes against Northern Ireland on Wednesday, so he should be fit for this. Let’s also hope Gerrard’s two goals and rapturous ovation at Wembley will provide a platform to build on; he may have two goals and assists for Liverpool so far, but (like Torres), we still haven’t seen his best.
As much as I’ll praise Insua to anyone who’ll listen, I’m hoping Aurelio’s return is imminent. I still think the little Argentinean will be a star for years, and I’m not trying to allot much blame (the only glaring faux pas was allowing Elmander to win the flick-on for Bolton’s first goal), but Aurelio’s experience and guile are needed with the backline in the shape it’s in. It might be too soon to see him start, but with articles like this, it can’t be far off.
Burnley outstrips the likes of Stoke in their capacity to nick a goal, but Liverpool will again be up against a packed and determined defense. So score early and don’t concede from set plays, and it should be another three points in the bag. Easier said than done, obviously.
There’s always one team that starts out flying after promotion, and Burnley is this season’s model. The highlight was obviously the 1-0 win over the Mancs at Turf Moor (thank you!), but they’ve also already beaten that lot from across the park (thank you!). However, Owen Coyle’s side still hasn’t scored away from home in the league, losing 0-3 to Chelsea and 0-2 to Stoke. Of course, neither Bolton nor Villa had scored a league goal prior to facing Liverpool.