Burnley Closeup: Fighting for a Premier League Place
It’s safe to say that there was much left to be desired following Liverpool’s goalless draw with Mersey rivals Everton at Goodison Park. Certainly, as anyone who was brave enough to venture into Twitter will attest, the reaction was rather ‘knee-jerk,’ with many fans (myself included), declaring Liverpool had handed the title to Manchester City in the race for glory.
With calmer minds, we can appreciate that this is simply not the case. Though a slim possibility, the odds are against City taking 27 points from their remaining games, especially with pivotal fixtures against top 4 rivals, Tottenham and Manchester United, on the horizon.
With nine games to go, Liverpool’s title hopes may be out of their hands but certainly not out of reach.
WHERE ARE BURNLEY NOW?
Last time we looked at Sean Dyche’s Burnley, the Lancashire club was toiling in the relegation zone, after struggling to replicate their impressive form of the previous term, which saw the side achieve its highest league position (7th) since the 1973/74 season (6th).
Since their ill-fated European campaign, Burnley appear to have recovered with an impressive win against Spurs toward the end of February and a share of the points away to United in January.
To put things into perspective, fourteen games into the season Burnley managed to accrue a meagre points total of 9. Fifteen games later, they have 21 more.
Their latest results however, much the same as Liverpool’s, have been somewhat lacklustre. Losses against Newcastle and Crystal Palace brought an end to Burnley’s eight game unbeaten run, leaving the club five points adrift of the relegation places at 16th with 30 points, though only 10 points fewer than what was achieved at the same stage in the 2017/18 season.
TACTICS AND SEAN DYCHE
It is expected that Dyche will stick with his usual 4-4-1-1/4-4-2 set-up at Anfield with the aim of stifling Liverpool’s build-up play, much like his side did against Tottenham at Turf Moor.
In that fixture, Dyche alternated between a 4-4-2 in possession and a 5-3-2 when defending against Tottenham’s counters, effectively nullifying the wide runs of their fullbacks, a feat they’ll need to repeat against the potent threats of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
Man-to-man marking also allowed the Clarets to actively block Spurs’s passing lanes, making them difficult to break down on any said counter.
Chance creation was where Dyche made a major change in tactical set-up, encouraging his players to focus on playing the ball through the middle of the pitch instead of their usual ploy of distributing the ball out wide to deliver crosses to their forwards.
Their wingers instead moved inside the pitch with Ashley Barnes and Chris Woods looking to utilise the pockets of space in-between Tottenham’s defenders.
Come Sunday, regardless of the club’s most recent outings, Jurgen Klopp must be prepared to face a challenging Burnley side, with particular care taken against the Clarets’s forwards who will hope to stretch Liverpool’s defence.
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