AHEAD of Liverpool’s clash with Burnley at Anfield we spoke to Tyrone Marshall, Burnley FC reporter at the Lancashire Telegraph, to gauge the opposition opinion.
Burnley currently sit 12th, nine points above the relegation zone, do you think fans will be pleased with how it’s gone so far?
They’ll be absolutely delighted, they’d have taken this at the start of the season. They were expecting to be in a relegation battle, as I think everyone was and most would have probably written them off, so to be nine points clear with 11 games to go is fantastic.
It’s all down to their home form really, but I think they’d have snapped your hand off to be 12th in the table at this stage of the season. It’s a fantastic position and shows how much they’ve overachieved this season.
Just one win in the last five though, do you think that is a cause for concern?
A little bit. I think promoted teams are always going to go through these runs, as will mid-table teams in the Premier League. It’s a big spell for them because they have taken so many of their points at home, but they’ve not won away this season and their on a run of four successive away games at the moment so I think that was always going to be a bit of a concern for them.
They did start that run of away games 10 points clear and they’re still nine points clear now so it’s not been the end of the world for them, and if they can maintain that gap then they’ll be alright. They’ve got Liverpool on Sunday and then Sunderland away the week after and then it’s back to two home games in a row, so if they can get through these next two games and still be eight or nine points clear of the relegation zone, they’ll definitely take that.
The Clarets are still without an away win this season, do you think that will affect confidence going to a place like Anfield?
Possibly, but it might help the other way in that they’ll see it as kind of a free hit. No one expects them to get a win at Anfield, Liverpool are going to be huge favourites and rightly so, so it does become a free hit when the away form is almost not as relevant — even if they were playing well away from home nobody would really expect them to win. There’s probably more pressure on games like Swansea away, Hull away, Sunderland away, where it’s a chance that they can end that poor away record and get that first win.
If they approach it the right way on Sunday they can almost play with the pressure off and think ‘well, we’re expected to lose here so let’s just go and give it our best shot’ and recently they have fairly played well away at some of those big teams — lost 2-1 at Tottenham and played well, lost 2-1 at Arsenal in the last minute, lost 2-1 at Manchester City, but although they’ve lost those games they have been in them.
Last time the sides met Burnley set up to frustrate Liverpool and ran out 2-0 winners, do you anticipate a similar set-up from Sean Dyche’s side this time around?
I would imagine so. I think they’d probably try and use that game as a template. It was a strange game really in that Liverpool had so much of the ball and so much of the pressure but struggled to create any clear cut chances and Burnley got a couple of goals on the break. I imagine they’ll try and do the same thing on Sunday; they’ll defend deep, they’ll be happy to see very little of the ball — they’re probably better without the ball.
The difference for Liverpool is that Sadio Mane is going to be playing this time. He was out last time and not having that pace to defend against probably helped Burnley in the way they set up. So it might be tougher this time round, particularly with it being at Anfield, but if they can stay in the game and keep it 0-0 for half an hour or until half-time, then what happened at Turf Moor back in August might play on both teams’ minds.
Joey Barton will be available after his FA hearing was postponed, how much of a boost will that be?
I think it will be a boost. He’s been really good since he came back actually, he just seems to fit in and gel quite well at Burnley considering the problems he had at Rangers, he’s settled back in and has been very good.
What’s happened this week with the hearing being delayed has worked out very well for him, especially giving him the chance to play at Anfield again, I’m sure it’s something he’ll relish.
How do you expect the game to pan out?
That’s a difficult one, though I do have a sneaking suspicion it might suit Burnley but that all depends on how long they can stay in the game. If they can turn it into a battle like they did at Turf Moor, and press hard, and get in Liverpool’s faces then it might suit them.
If they go behind early on, given their away record, it will be difficult to get back into it and heads might drop, and Liverpool would probably run out comfortable winners.
But let’s go with 1-1.