Burnley v Liverpool: Reds should edge tight encounter

Jürgen Klopp will be hoping to secure three more points
Jürgen Klopp will be hoping to secure three more points

Jack Lang is expecting Jurgen Klopp's men to claim three more points to start 2018 on a high...

"Arsenal and Tottenham have both beaten Burnley on their own patch in recent weeks – the latter quite convincingly – so we're not brave enough to back the Clarets even at good odds"

Burnley v Liverpool
New Year's Day, 15:00

Clarets not at their best

Burnley's current run of fixtures almost seems designed specifically as a punchline to recent talk about the Champions League. The Clarets were lingering near the top four a couple of weeks ago, but a run of five away games in seven - with Tottenham and Liverpool their visitors at Turf Moor - has not started especially well: after the 0-0 draw with Huddersfield, Sean Dyche's side have now gone four games without a win.

There were mitigating factors on Saturday: Burnley outplayed the Terriers and really ought to have been awarded a spot kick when Jeff Hendrick was brought down by Jonas Lössl. "There's not much to say about it because everyone will see it was a penalty," lamented Dyche after the game, and there was little argument from David Wagner. Yet Burnley also had themselves to blame for some wastefulness in front of goal.

Dyche welcomes back James Tarkowski after his three-match ban, which is a boost. There could also be some rotation in attack, with Ashley Barnes pushing for a recall in place of Sam Vokes.

Salah injury scare for Reds

2 Unlimited should probably try re-releasing their biggest hit on Merseyside at some point this season, for at the moment there seems to be Mo limit to what Liverpool's star man can do. Mohamed Salah continued to reach for the sky at the weekend, scoring two deft goals to down Leicester and taking his league tally to 17 already. That's over a third of the Reds' total, which underlines his importance to this team (as well as a million fantasy football sides).

Yet there was a scare for fans after the match, with boss Jürgen Klopp revealing that the forward had picked up a slight knock. "He was limping," said the German. "That's never a good sign, to be honest. We have to see what his problem was. We will see what he can do for the next game." The fact that this match comes so quickly on the heels of the last probably won't help Salah's cause.

If the Egyptian does fail to make it, Klopp could turn to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dominic Solanke or even Adam Lallana, who has been back in the matchday squad in the last couple of weeks. The result will be a weaker side, but Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané have all been in good nick recently and should help to paper over the cracks.

Not much juice in match odds

Burnley are never pushovers at Turf Moor and won this fixture 2-0 last season, so odds of 7.87/1 on the home win could be tempting. But Arsenal and Tottenham have both beaten them on their own patch in recent weeks - the latter quite convincingly - so we're not brave enough to back them against a side high on confidence.

No team has scored more away goals in the league than Liverpool (27) and they should have enough firepower to find a way past Nick Pope even if Salah fails to make this game. Yet 1.528/15 on a win for the Reds holds no great appeal either.

Liverpool should win but may not cut loose

Only one of Burnley's 10 home games has gone over the 2.5-goal mark: the 3-0 defeat to Spurs. But Liverpool away games have followed the opposite pattern, with nine of 10 producing three goals or more. So it's a coin toss on the overs/unders, as the odds reflect.

Our best strategy is probably to back a Liverpool win and under 3.5 goals. Burnley's last 12 Premier League defeats have been low-scoring enough to sneak under that line and Liverpool might not go goal crazy against a defence significantly stronger than some of those they have taken to the cleaners recently.

Firmino deadly away from home

With Salah a doubt, Liverpool will need Roberto Firmino to step up to the plate. The Brazilian has scored four goals in his last three away games and can be backed at 2.526/4 to start 2018 on the front foot.

Jack Lang's Premier League P/L, 2017/18

Staked: 27pts
Returned: 31pts
P/L: +4pts

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