The Reds were beaten 3-1 by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, losing their buffer over their title rivals as a result. This was the Merseyside outfit’s first defeat since December 14 when they lost 2-1 to Union SG in the final Europa League group-stage fixture.
But, regardless of last weekend’s result, Jurgen Klopp’s side are big favourites to get the better of Vincent Kompany’s Burnley, who find themselves seven points adrift of safety following their 2-2 draw with Fulham.
On that note, let us take a look at the key battles that could define the outcome of the game.
#Darwin Nunez vs Lorenz Assignon
Burnley signed Lorenz Assignon on loan from Rennes until the end of the season on the January transfer deadline. The 23-year-old was immediately thrown into action against Fulham last weekend and enjoyed a strong home debut. However, the right-back could well be in for a different challenge on Saturday when Burnley faces Liverpool.
Having passed a late fitness test to be on the bench against Arsenal, Darwin Nunez could start this time around. The Uruguayan striker has been in good form this season, bagging seven goals and as many assists in 22 Premier League games so far. He is relentless, pacey, a constant bundle of energy and physicality, creating space for himself and his teammates—something which Liverpool missed from the start against Arsenal.
Nunez’s selection on the left flank should see Luis Diaz switch to the right, replacing Cody Gakpo with Diogo Jota leading the Liverpool attack again. And potentially facing the in-form Nunez should be Assignon’s first big test in his fledgling Burnley career.
#Curtis Jones vs Josh Brownhill
Curtis Jones made his senior Liverpool debut in January 2019 but his breakthrough did not come until the following campaign. Since then he has been gaining experience and – after a testing time last year because of injury – the 23-year-old is enjoying his best goalscoring season, having taken his tally to five goals across all competitions.
Having become a crucial cog in the Reds’ engine room this season, Jones is expected to keep his place in the starting XI when Burnley visit Anfield on Saturday. Given his ability to wriggle through tight spaces and vision to unlock a tight defence, the Clarets cannot afford to give the Englishman time and space on the ball.
Vincent Kompany could employ Josh Brownhill to take care of the Liverpool midfielder. Busy and tigerish, Brownhill is a grafter in the middle of the park. Expected to start wide on the right in a 4-4-2 formation, he must produce a top performance to limit Jones’ influence in the game.
#David Datro Fofana vs Virgil van Dijk
Davide Datro Fofana could have earned himself a start for Burnley after his brace off the bench earned a point against Fulham. It was his second appearance since joining on loan from Chelsea last month after his short spell in Germany at Union Berlin was cut short. And the 21-year-old striker has quickly made his presence known, with the Ivory Coast international proving to be a huge hit with the Turf Moor faithful.
Fofana’s confidence should’ve been boosted following a double against Fulham, and he will enter Anfield a different player. Standing in front of him will be Liverpool skipper Virgil van Dijk, who was largely at fault for Arsenal’s second goal. The Dutchman is still one of the best defenders on the planet, but unsurprisingly the odd misjudgment is creeping in as he ages.
So, considering how his fault changed the complexion of the game at the Emirates Stadium and allowed Arsenal to get their title charge back on track, Van Dijk will be raring to make amends and produce a strong display against Burnley.