25 December 2014

Liverpool at Burnley 12.26.14

10am ET, live in the US on NBC Sports Live Extra

Last four head-to-head:
4-0 Liverpool (a) 04.25.10
4-0 Liverpool (h) 09.12.09
0-1 Burnley (a, FA Cup) 01.18.05
1-0 Burnley (h, FA Cup) 01.04.97

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-2 Arsenal (h); 3-1 Bournemouth (a); 0-3 United (a)
Burnley: 1-2 Tottenham (a); 1-0 Southampton (h); 0-2 QPR (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Gerrard, Own Goal, Sterling 3; Coutinho, Henderson, Lallana 2; Can, Johnson, Lambert, Moreno, Skrtel, Sturridge 1
Burnley: Ings 4; Barnes 3; Boyd 2; Arfield, Kightly, Wallace 1

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Guess at a line-up:
Toure Skrtel Sakho
Henderson Gerrard Lucas Markovic
Coutinho Lallana

If it ain't (all that) broke, don't fix it.

Same formation, same XI seems the most likely outcome tomorrow. Because Liverpool's actually been decent, and slowly improving – slowly looking like the Liverpool we remember – when doing so. If Lovren's fit, maybe he comes in for Sakho. I'm still hopeful, but not expecting, that Mignolet will replace Jones. Balotelli's fit and back from suspension, but is more likely to appear as a substitute. There's always the option of replacing Lucas or Gerrard with Allen or Can, Markovic with Moreno or Enrique, as Liverpool have three matches in six days, but I suspect we'll see more rotation on Monday rather than tomorrow.

And Liverpool's 3-4-2-1 set-up matches up well against Burnley's usual 4-4-2. Sometimes it's 4-3-1-2, sometimes 4-4-1-1, but often an orthodox 4-4-2. And Burnley, with one of the smallest squads in the league, rotate infrequently, especially since they've few injuries at the moment. The best guess is the same XI which narrowly lost to Tottenham last weekend: Heaton; Trippier, Keane, Shackell, Mee; Boyd, Marney, Jones, Arfield; Barnes, Ings.

Burnley have been a better side since Ashley Barnes came into the starting XI, losing just two of their last seven matches after finally winning their first on November 8. Burnley remain goal-shy, yet to score more than twice in any match this season, but they've been held scoreless just once during the last seven matches, and both Ings and Barnes have notched recently, and are capable of creating their own opportunities or setting up others. And Burnley have also become more secure at the back, yet to allow more than two goals during this seven-match run.

Tomorrow is either the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end for Liverpool. With matches against Burnley (18th), Swansea (8th), Leicester (20th), Sunderland (14th), and Villa (12th) in the next three weeks, Liverpool have a chance to make up ground in the table, to make amends for the previous few months.

If it were only that easy. Liverpool have demonstrated an unwelcome ability to play down to the level of their opposition too often this season, especially when away from Anfield. Newcastle, West Ham, and Palace – three debilitating losses – all quickly come to mind.

Tomorrow is Liverpool's next chance to change that trend. They won't have many more.


Zētētikos said...

Thanks for doing this preview, Nate. I know you probably have better things to do.

Anonymous said...

"Tomorrow is either the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning". Very funny Nate.

A new day is dawning. Hope to see us banging in the goals tomorrow. And to see Migs between the sticks. I'm thinking that the keeper switch is an overreaction to all the moaning over the Cambiasso error. Just get over it already. And get Migs' head sorted.

Jones' passing against Arsenal was 11/21. Not so great, eh? And he had Hendo and Marko on the wings to help him with his distribution. All 6 long punts were turnovers. He didn't distribute the ball short all that often either. 6 goals against in the last 3 games. 2 between his legs, 2 he dove before the ball was hit and the wrong way, one his feet were stuck in concrete (slow reaction time on Debuchy's header). Mata's goal is the only one I can't criticize him for. That was on the ref and Lovren getting drawn to ball like a firefly to the light, and losing Mata at the back post.