Liverpool avslutade 2017 på bästa sätt, med två starka hemmasegrar, redan på nyårsdagen får vi se hur man inleder 2018. Bortamatch mot Burnley är en riktigt tuff uppgift i ett läge där flera av våra nyckelspelare matchats ganska tufft. Vi kommer antagligen att få se en lite annan startelva än mot Leicester och de som startar kommer att ställas mot ett lag som den här säsongen tagit ett fast grepp om en plats på den övre halvan. James Bird(@jamesbird) är en av deltagarna i Burnley-podden Nonaynever-podcast(@Nonaynever) och berättar här om en av säsongens överraskningslag:

1. Burnley has impressed this season, taking points both at Anfield and Old Trafford and currently closer to the Champions League-spots than the relegation battle. What are your thoughts on the first half of the season? Has anything changed from last season?
This season has been sensational so far. I think before the season you could see that Dyche had added a few key components, such as Jack Cork, but we also sold our best goalscorer just before the first game. It’s become clear that Dyche didn’t see us playing a style of football that would suit Andre Gray and the addition of Chris Wood has reinforced that he was looking for something different from a front man.
The first half of the season has shown what we’ve learnt from last season and we’ve become a much more difficult team to break down and this has been the key to our results compared to last season. We are much more savvy to Premier League life now and that’s meant we’ve drawn games we would have lost last year and won games we would have drawn.

2. Sean Dyche has been at your club for a while now, how do you think he has developed as a manager?

Dyche has always been a good manager dealing with limited resources during his time at Burnley. We’ve seen over the last five years that he’s gotten better at bringing in players who can buy into his vision and who fit with the dressing room. The spirit he has generated in the dressing room has been a big key for the way the team has progressed. I think something that has developed over the last few years is his willingness to make changes in style in-game. He previously was very reluctant to change the shape of the team during a game but now he does this far earlier and more often, this is bearing fruit on the pitch.

3. How would you describe the way Burnley plays this season?

Difficult to break down. That’s the key to how we play. We defend well, keeping teams to low percentage opportunities and we use the counter attack well to score. We’re a gritty side and we aren’t shy in a physical contest. I’d say we generally out will teams and simply want the result more than they do.

4. Who has been your player of the year so far?

For me it has been Jack Cork. He was the highlight of our summer signings and a player who had been at Turf Moor before. He’s brought something to our midfield that was missing and the way he has combined with another candidate for player of the year in Steven Defour has been instrumental in allowing us to win midfield battles that we previously missed out on. Both players are great on the ball and can really pull the strings for us. Cork is more steady than Defour, who has more flair, but he is a seriously underrated player in the league for me.

5. The transfer window is about to open, do you think there will be any new players coming in at Burnley?

I think Dyche will be looking at a few positions that need strengthening in January as we’ve started to struggle with injuries and suspensions over the last few weeks. Look for a winger and a centre half to come in as the bare minimum.

6. What do you expect of the second part of the season?

We’re not far off the points total that many Clarets would have been hoping for before the season started so anything from here is almost a bonus. Saying that, I expect us to battle to stay in the top half and have a really strong finish to the season ready to build towards making ourselves a stable mid-table Premier League side next season.

7. What kind of game do you think we will see on new years day and how do you think you will line up?

Provided there’s no injuries against Huddersfield I’d expect a similar team to the one that played Manchester United on Boxing Day. Though I expect James Tarkowski will return after his suspension and Chris Wood may return depending on his injury and the play of Ashley Barnes against the Terriers.