Äntligen är det dags för Liverpool att kliva in på ett kokande Anfield. För motståndet står laget som förstörde vår hemmasvit, nämligen Burnley.
Skadeläge: Robertson (ankelskada), Shaqiri (övergångsaktuell), Phillips (övergångsaktuell)
Trolig startelva (4-3-3): Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Tsimikas – Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago – Mané, Salah, Firmino
Tankar om elvan: Med tanke på att få spelare står på skadelistan har Klopp en stor trupp att välja ifrån när han ska ta ut laget på lördagen. Backlinjen kommer antagligen att se ut på samma sätt som senast, men mittfältet kan komma att se helt annorlunda ut. Om Fabinho är redo att spela, trots sin faders bortgång, är han såklart given, tillsammans med honom kan det kanske vara dags för både Thiago och Henderson. Närmast till hands om någon av de två inte är redo står nog Naby Keita, som gjorde en stabil insats senast. I anfallet har vi fyra formstarka spelare till tre platser, jag tror att det blir Jota som får börja på bänken den här gången.
1. Looking back, how do you remember last season?
It was a bit of a slog really because of the pandemic and quite forgettable overall. Our home form was pretty poor but we had some good wins on the road, including at Anfield – back before everyone was winning away to Liverpool! Our small squad was really stretched and we suffered injuries to key players which made it tough. I don’t think we were ever in real danger of going down as the bottom three were so bad, but there were some nervy moments in the second half of the season for sure. One of the surprising things about last season was how open we were at the back – most unlike Sean Dyche’s Clarets really.
2. What has happened at your club during the summer? Do you think the team has improved?
It’s been the first summer for the new owners and I think most people expected more transfer activity. They promised to back Dyche in the market but we’ve only signed Nathan Collins from Stoke City for money, with Wayne Hennessey coming in on a free to cover for Nick Pope. The squad has been basically the same for three or four years now and it really needs freshening up. The first XI is solid enough and players like James Tarkowski, Dwight McNeil and Chris Wood are still improving, but it’s hard to argue we’re any stronger than a year ago. We actually have even fewer options for positions like both wings now. We probably need to sign at least two or three quality players in the next couple of weeks, which is going to be a big test for the new owners.
3. Burnley finished 17th last season, but with eleven points from the relegation zone, do you expect a battle against relegation this season or do you think you got the potential to do better?
It’s hard to say given the gap between the three relegated sides and the rest was so big last season, but it could be a tricky campaign for us, yes. At half-time against Brighton it looked like we could have a good season and then we were pretty terrible after the break. Our next few games look tough on paper so we could be playing catch-up like last season and without injured star players coming back in to boost Dyche’s options this time either. I wouldn’t say I was overly worried as I think the quality of your manager is key and Dyche is one of the best in the league in terms of delivering results with the resources he has. The three promoted sides could all find it tough with Crystal Palace and Southampton two other teams I reckon are in for a difficult year. I think we’ll have enough.
4. What did you make of your first game of the season?
Game of two halves! We were great in the first, bad in the second. We hit the woodwork twice after scoring so it could easily have been 3-0 at HT and then we likely win the game easily, but those chances didn’t go in and Brighton were more clinical after they made good substitutions. Dyche got it wrong with his changes – bringing on Ashley Barnes for Jay Rodriguez put us on the back foot and we conceded twice quickly after that. What I found a bit concerning is how we tired in the second half – you don’t expect that from a Dyche team and certainly not in the opening match. Maybe they just went too hard in the first half.
5. A lot of players in your squad is past or getting close to their thirties, are you afraid that the squad is getting a bit old? Do you have any interesting young players knocking on the door to the team?
Yes, that’s definitely a valid concern. We could be a bit like Palace in that at some point in the medium-term future we will need a big squad refresh and it’s questionable whether a) Dyche is the man to do that given he seems to prefer to work with more experienced players and b) how we will afford it. Aaron Lennon is training with us as a free agent after we released him a year ago and we will probably give him a year’s contract, which says it all. Our academy is now level one so there is certainly hope we can start to develop more talent of our own, though with Rodriguez and McNeil we do have two homegrown local lads in the first team, which is more than many clubs can say these days. There is a lot of excitement around teenage striker Lewis Richardson, who has piled up the goals in our youth teams, but he has four senior players ahead of him – Barnes, Wood, Rodriguez and Matej Vydra – so it’s difficult to see how he will get chances to play apart from maybe in the cups. A loan in the Football League might be the best option for him but he’s definitely one to keep an eye out for.
6. What do you expect to see at Anfield? What will be most important to your team to get a good result?
We’ve had a couple of good results at Liverpool in recent years so hopefully the lads will travel with some confidence from those, but obviously it’s broadly the same Reds team that won the title easily so there will probably be a large gulf in quality. I just hope it isn’t a complete mismatch! We will have to show better fitness levels to avoid it being a long day I think, but we have often bounced back from disappointing results well under Dyche so fingers crossed..
Totaal reflektion: Burnley är ett obehagligt lag att möta och har alltid vara svåra att få hål på, något som var fallet även förra säsongen då de förstörde vår fina hemmasvit. Nu kommer laget från en förlust i hemmapremiären och kommer säkerligen att sälja sig väldigt dyrt på Anfield. Burnley kommer att vara välorganiserade och säkerligen göra vad de kan för att såra oss i omställningarna, men det här är en match där vi är stora favoriter och ska såklart ta tre poäng. Men, precis som Jamie är inne på ovan kan laget komma till matchen med en vetskap om att det går att vinna på Anfield, så det kommer krävas en rejäl insats av Liverpool för att ta säsongens andra raka seger.