Fringe Reds Looking to Impress Against Brewers
Burton will be without key defender John Mousinho who has grown into a very influential presence in defence after a brilliant couple of seasons, assisting Burton in their impressive feat of achieving back to back promotions. Defenders Kyle McFadzean and Tom Flanagan are expected to return from respective injuries, whilst John Brayford is cup-tied.
The Brewers will boast a solid defence, with McFadzean and Ben Turner both being very capable defenders, whilst their midfield is a good blend of creativity and physicality. Tom Naylor has already scored three goals this season, on the other hand, another potential starter in Australian Jackson Irvine is a strong, tall player with good heading ability. Elsewhere they have an experienced attack with pacy Lloyd Dyer and consistent goalscorer Lucas Akins on the wings as well as back-to-back Burton Albion player of the year, Stuart Beavon. Chris O’Grady is another dangerous attacking player who could feature up front or in midfield.
Not much has changed with Liverpool regarding team news since Burnley. The likes of Sadio Mane, Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva are all still in doubt, whilst Loris Karius, Sheyi Ojo and Joe Gomez continue on the road to rehabilitation and shouldn’t be expected to make returns any time soon.
This team is very difficult to predict as there are many players within the squad who will want a chance to impress and force their way into the struggling first team. However Jurgen Klopp suggested this week that he wouldn’t be making wholesale changes. Despite this, I believe Klopp will hand first starts of the season to all or some of Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Emre Can, Kevin Stewart, Marko Grujic, Lazar Markovic and Divock Origi. Matip will be desperate for game time to replace either Dejan Lovren or Ragnar Klavan in the floundering first XI defence, whilst in midfield Emre Can will be looking to do the same. Many fans will be excited to see Grujic start after a tremendous preseason, and Stewart, despite his age, always has a solid game and will be looking to continue his growth as a player. Up front, it could be last chance saloon for Markovic as he aims to impress Klopp enough to get more game time, whilst Origi will be looking to prove why he should be the team’s first choice striker. Adam Lallana could play to give Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho a rest, otherwise Klopp may trial Georginio Wijnaldum in his more familiar wide-role. Danny Ings will be unfortunate to miss out, but baring injuries it is hard to see where the former Burnley striker will get his chance to show the manager his credentials in a competitive match.
Former Liverpool player and current Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough has got his team playing some really attractive football. The attacking Brewers have racked up a whopping 12 goals in their last 5 competitive matches and will look to add to that tally against Liverpool. Despite the two sides never meeting each other before, Burton Albion are no strangers to Premier League opponents, beating QPR in 2014/15 and just losing to Fulham on penalties in 2013/14. They’ve made a solid start to life in the Championship, and will be aiming to avoid relegation after good results against Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers, as well as a valiant display versus Nottingham Forrest. They will look to attack with pace and numbers, relying on the speed of Dyer and link-up play from Beavon to open up chances for the likes of Akins and Naylor. The key battle here will be Dyer versus young Alexander-Arnold, if the talented young fullback can keep the experienced winger quiet, then he’ll give the Reds an excellent chance of winning.
Liverpool will likely see a fair few changes, and may struggle to link-up with one another as a result. Fitness will also be a concern, with a number of players having not played a full game for weeks, if not months. Having said that, the Reds will still consider themselves heavy favourites and should be able to get the job done relatively comfortably. They will look to dominate the midfield with Can and Grujic’s physicallity, along with the stamina of Stewart. Up front the pace of Origi and Markovic could cause Burton Albion major problems and it is here where the key battle will be found, Origi versus McFadzean and Turner could decide the game one way or the other. This depends on whether the young Belgian can get the better of the experienced pair, in either case he will need support from Markovic and Lallana in doing so.
As stated earlier, Liverpool should be expected to emerge as the victors and ideally having done so by defending well and winning the midfield battle. This should be achievable with the likely midfield trio of Can, Stewart and Grujic. Expect an exciting game whatever the result as both teams will lineup to play attacking football, I think this will mean that Liverpool’s first clean sheet of the season will again elude them, but they should still win 3-1 with goals coming from Grujic and two from Origi.
Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 23/08/2016.