With Liverpool facing Burnley on Sunday afternoon, the team that delivered the Reds their first league defeat of the season, the old question is being asked of Jürgen Klopp and his players – can they beat a team that parks the bus?
It’s well known that the team from Merseyside play their best football against the elite teams of the Premier League with five wins, four draws and no defeats against the top six. However, their form against the so-called ‘weaker teams’ is where the concern is with all five of their league defeats coming against teams in the bottom half of the table.
Sean Dyche and his men are the first to show Liverpool’s frailties and weaknesses having won 2-0 with only 19% possession of the ball. Though the Reds managed to put those worries to rest since then earlier in the campaign, after the turn of the year it’s become their Achilles heel.
Although Burnley come to Anfield with a dismal away record of just one point on their travels all season, they’ll be looking to employ the same tactics as before. With that in mind, here are three ways in which Liverpool can take all three points on Sunday.
Use our full backs
A common pattern that occurs when Liverpool play these kinds of teams is that they let our full backs have the ball and press once the ball goes central. This is because they don’t see any attacking threat from Nathaniel Clyne or James Milner.
Though both have been very good all season, they’re one dimensional. Crossing aimlessly, give the ball to the winger or take a hopeless shot. If they can beat their man more often and go to the byline, or create little one-twos in the channels more they can be a serious threat. This puts a doubt in opposition minds and draws defenders to the wing more, making space for our more creative players. They’re both forward-thinking players so they have it in their locker and could pose a serious threat.
Divock Origi as a target man
With Roberto Firmino a doubt for the game on Sunday it’s looking increasingly likely Origi will start. Now I know Origi hasn’t really shown too much this season he is capable of being that target man. However, I believe he’s got the physique and that natural striker’s instinct to be a real threat in these games where you need to score anyway how.
The team has capable crossers of the ball and with the right service, he could easily ask questions of that Burnley back four. Against Arsenal, he showed glimpses of him holding the ball up and leading the line which is what Liverpool will need on the weekend.
In the first half of the season it seemed like the Reds couldn’t stop scoring from set-pieces, however, this has recently dried up. When things aren’t going to plan and the team isn’t on song, a single set piece can make the difference.
The key to this is Phillipe Coutinho. He’s the closest we have to a set-piece specialist and with the Brazilian slowly coming back into form, he could be vital for us. Whether it’s a free kick, a corner, or a dodgy penalty decision, Liverpool need to get back to being dangerous from set pieces.