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In a way, Liverpool’s tepid performance against West Brom was a blessing in disguise. Jurgen Klopp’s side escaped from the Hawthorns with three points thanks to Alisson’s dramatic header, but they were also served a timely reminder that none of their ostensibly easy games will be walkovers.
Another insipid display against Burnley on Wednesday would be detrimental to Liverpool’s top four dreams considering Burnley are a better team than West Brom and are better placed to punish any Liverpool mediocrity.
Expect Liverpool to be right at it at Turf Moor, especially if Chelsea drop points on Tuesday night in their crunch tie with Leicester. A Leicester defeat on Tuesday is the worst possible result for Liverpool, but it is not disastrous by any means.
In fact, a comfortable win against Burnley on Wednesday night would give Liverpool an unassailable lead on goal difference over Leicester going into the final day and the Foxes would have to hope for an unlikely slip-up against Crystal Palace.
The Reds really shouldn’t have too many problems in securing a comfortable win on Wednesday night. Burnley’s home form has been uncharacteristically poor this season and they have avoided a relegation dogfight largely thanks to their results away from Turf Moor.
Sean Dyche’s side are without a win at home in any competition since 27 January – a run of 10 games. Most recently, they were ripped apart by Leeds in a 4-0 demolition. Liverpool have no excuses. They simply must win and win well.
Wednesday 20:15: Burnley v Liverpool
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Liverpool would be nowhere near the top four if it weren’t for the goalscoring exploits of their Egyptian forward. Salah has been pretty much the only consistent Liverpool performer this season and his goals in recent months have ensured that the Reds remain in contention for a place in next season’s Champions League.
He has scored in five of Liverpool’s last seven league games, striking first against Newcastle and scoring Liverpool’s first in come-from-behind victories against Aston Villa and West Brom.
He has scored 10 of Liverpool’s 24 goals in the league in 2021, carrying them through the dark days of six home defeats in-a-row and ensuring that they had a fighting chance of taking a Champions League spot.
His goal against West Brom saw him draw level with Harry Kane yet again in the race for the golden boot and he will be desperate to kill two birds with the one stone on Wednesday night by simultaneously stealing a march on Kane and putting Liverpool within touching distance of the Champions League.
Liverpool’s defending left a lot to be desired in Sunday’s narrow win over West Brom, but they should be much improved after that badly needed wake-up call. Six of their ten league clean sheets have come away from Anfield and they will hope to contain a Burnley side that are among the worst goalscorers in the league.
Only relegated Fulham and Sheffield United have scored fewer goals than Burnley this summer and Liverpool will go a long way towards keeping a clean sheet if they can curtail the Clarets’ threat from set-pieces.
Exactly one-third of Burnley’s goals have come from set-pieces this season and Liverpool will hope to contain that threat through the height of Nat Phillips. If they can combat that and the return of spectators, they have a very good chance of keeping Burnley scoreless.
Burnley have drawn blanks in seven of their 18 home games this season and Liverpool have every chance of making that eight on Wednesday night.
It has not been a vintage season in front of goal for Liverpool’s number nine, but there have been some positive signs in recent games.
First, he scored either side of half time in the crucial victory at Old Trafford last week, showing a poacher’s instinct to score from close range on both occasions and end a 15-game streak without a goal. He subsequently rattled the post against West Brom on Sunday and at least showed good positional sense even if he didn’t find the back of the net.
Firmino has been fairly accused of not shooting when a chance presents itself, but the statistics show that the Brazilian striker is not shy of a shot on goal.
Firmino has attempted 79 shots in 34 league appearances this season and averages just under one shot on target per game. He will be playing in a side that is likely to dominate both possession and territory on Wednesday night and should see plenty of opportunities come his way as Liverpool attempt to wrestle back control in the race for the top four.
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