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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Liverpool v Burnley: Reds may have to grind it out

Liverpool v Burnley: Reds may have to grind it out

Champions Liverpool can overcome Burnley on Saturday afternoon but don't expect a glut of goals, says Dave Tindall...

Liverpool v Burnley
Saturday, 15:00
Live on BT Sport 1

Red machine further focused by records

When Liverpool cruised to title glory in 1983, the Reds took their foot off the pedal to such an extent that they lost five and drew two of their final seven games.
And when Jurgen Klopp's men ended their 30-year wait for glory by losing their first game as champions 4-0 at Manchester City before limping through 70 goalless minutes against Aston Villa at Anfield, there were hints that something along the same lines could happen, although not that extreme of course.
Liverpool had climbed the mountain, planted the flag but now what?
Of course, Klopp was never going to let his side ease off and they came up with two late goals to sink Villa and followed it with two early strikes before securing a 3-1 success at Brighton.
There are records to break - notably Man City's record haul of 100 points - and this Liverpool side are greedy.
With a remarkable 92 points from their first 34 games, the Reds can still reach 104 so three wins from the final four will set a new mark.
Another ambition is to go through their whole league campaign at Anfield in winning fashion. It's 17 out of 17 so far and victories over Burnley and Chelsea will secure the maximum 57 points.
Add in last season and they've actually won their last 24 games at home. Astonishing.

Burnley finishing with a flourish

When Burnley resumed their season with a 5-0 defeat at Manchester City, they went into their next game - a home clash with struggling Watford - as clear underdogs.
That looks ridiculous now as Sean Dyche's men have taken 10 points from the last 12, beating Watford, Crystal Palace and West Ham 1-0 and drawing 1-1 with Sheffield United after leading with 10 minutes to go.
Add it all up and they've matched their best ever tally of wins in a Premier League season with 14 and they'll fancy themselves for more given that their final three matches are home to Wolves, away to Norwich and home to Brighton.
It means Dyche's men have a fair crack at finishing above both Tottenham and Arsenal which is a remarkable achievement given their modest finances.
After the recent flurry, they lie 10th and just three back from sixth-placed Wolves while their number of away wins (six) is only bettered by the top five and Southampton. Europe is a very realistic ambition.
No wonder Klopp has absolutely maximum respect for the man in the opposite dugout.

Hard to complain about Reds price

For all his wizardry, Dyche hasn't had much to shout about against Liverpool since Klopp really got Liverpool purring.
The Merseysiders have won the last four head-to-heads and scored 12 goals in the process. They ran out 3-0 winners at Turf Moor earlier this season.
It's just 1.26 for another Liverpool win and you could argue that it's more than fair for an outcome that has landed the last 24 times in a row!
Burnley are 13.50 to pull off a big shock while The Draw is 7.00.

Goal count may not get too high

Obviously I'm not putting up a home win at around 1/4 but there are a couple of decent ways of backing Liverpool and getting odds-against.
The first is Liverpool to win to nil which has landed in both home games since the restart - 4-0 v Crystal Palace and 2-0 v Aston Villa. Another victory with a clean sheet is 2.12.
But my preference is for Liverpool to win and Under 3.5 Goals at 2.16.
That covers a 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0 home win and also a 2-1.
While Brighton gave Klopp's side a two-goal start by playing around at the back, Burnley will be a much tougher nut to crack and the home side may have to be patient, as they were against Aston Villa.
What further sways my thinking is the absence of skipper Jordan Henderson, who limped off with a knee injury in midweek.
While those around him have looked slightly flat and lacklustre, the captain has injected some urgency and, without him, I can see Liverpool reverting to a slower passing game which may struggle to produce clear openings against Burnley's low block.
The champions should get it done but it may be an afternoon of huff and puff and something like 2-0 could be the sweet spot.

Unders the preference

With 2-0 a realistic possibility, the Under 2.5 Goals price of 2.72 makes some appeal too.
It's landed in five of Liverpool's last nine home wins which suggests the price should be shorter.
As for Burnley, Under 2.5 has been a winner in six of their last seven games, including the last four.

Salah in search of late flurry

In terms of goalscorers, the stats show that Mo Salah is set to become the first Liverpool player to score 20+ times in three consecutive top-flight campaigns since Roger Hunt in the 1960s.
The real prize for the Egyptian though is to grab a piece of the Golden Boot for the third season running.
His double against Brighton took him to 19 but that's still three back from Jamie Vardy.
He's just 1.75 to score but, given that he'll be shooting at every opportunity, it's worth pointing out the 2 Goal or more price of 4.20 and, for the optimists, the hat-trick odds of 15.00.
However, it's Sadio Mane, who has inflicted more damage on Burnley than Salah in recent seasons, scoring four times in the last three meetings. The Senegal attacker is 1.87 to net.
Finally, it seems absurd that Roberto Firmino could fail to score a home league goal in a Championship-winning season but that's the case so far.
He did score twice in the fixture last season and is 2.48 to break his duck. However, if Liverpool win a penalty, there'll be no sentimental 'here, you take it Roberto' from Salah!

Opta Stat

Victory here will see Liverpool equal the record for most home wins in a single Premier League campaign (18), while it will also put them a step closer to becoming just the second team in top-flight history to win 100% of their home games in a single season, after Sunderland in 1891-92 (13/13).