Relegation-threatened Burnley face a difficult task when they take on a streaking Liverpool side at Anfield on Wednesday night. The Reds are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League matches and are fresh off a 2-1 win over second-place Manchester City last Sunday.
The win over City featured a pair of amazing wonderstrikes from midfielders Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho. Liverpool seem to have found an attacking rhythm and have paired that with solid defensive organization. The results have been spectacular. The last time the Reds lost in the Premier League was Dec. 14, falling 3-0 to Manchester United. The streak has shot Liverpool up the league table to sixth place. A win would jump the Reds past Southampton for fifth place. Burnley are 19th on the league table and trying to fight out of the relegation zone.
It will certainly be a tall task for the Burnley side, but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers praised the side and their manager Sean Dyche, especially.
"I rate Burnley as a team, and the manager in particular,” Rodgers said to reporters. “Sean Dyche has done an incredible job at Burnley. He is a Premier League manager who is very talented.
"I think they have given absolutely everything to the cause. They got a great promotion and Sean is maybe up there, I am sure, as one of the candidates for manager of the year, irrespective of what happens."
Despite Rodgers’ admiration, Burnley have been moving in the opposite direction of the streaking Reds. Dyche’s side have won just once in their last 11 contests. The side did take a crucial point in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea on Feb. 21 but then lost their next match 1-0 to Swansea City last Saturday. The Clarets will need to play at top form to come away with a point. Dyche claimed in his pre-match press conference that the pressure is firmly on Liverpool because of their current form.
“Obviously, the weight of expectation and pressure goes onto the team that we’re playing against because of who they are,” he said, according to the club’s site. “In this case it’s Liverpool who had a bit of an up-and-down and bumpy start, but have found a real rich vein of form since Christmas onwards.
“Of course, all their fans in the whole of the world will be thinking that they will win. And it’s not that easy, quite obviously, for them to do that.”
Perhaps that mindset has helped Burnley become giant-killers this season. Despite the side’s obvious struggles, they have performed well against the league’s top squads. Along with the draw against Chelsea, the Clarets drew with Manchester United and Manchester City this year. The first matchup between Liverpool and Burnley was close as well, as the Reds barely escaped with a 1-0 road win on Dec. 26. Reds forward Raheem Sterling secured the Liverpool win with a second-half strike that helped set the side on their winning course.
Kickoff time: 3:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports via the Premier League Extra Time Package
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra here
Prediction: The match might be closer than expected. Burnley will be playing with the desperation of a team attempting to claw out of the relegation zone, and the defense is capable of frustrating opponents. In the end, Liverpool has too much confidence, and too many weapons. Expect Coutinho to maintain his strong form.
Liverpool 2-1 Burnley