BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Klopp's men may have to work hard at Turf Moor

Sky Sports Main Event/Premier League, 5.30pm Saturday

Leaders Liverpool have not reached peak performance in the early stages of the season but their Premier League winning streak stands at 12 and it is likely to be extended by a victory at Burnley.

Jurgen Klopp will be respectful of the sixth-placed Clarets, who have given his team some serious examinations.

Klopp's first trip to Turf Moor ended in a 2-0 defeat in August 2016 and his team had to overcome tough challenges on their last two visits, winning 2-1 in January 2018 and 3-1 last December.

It is a stadium where title chasers expect to win but victories rarely come easily, as Manchester City discovered in April when Sergio Aguero's winning goal barely crossed the line.

Burnley dug in that day, offering little threat to City's goal, but they are likely to play more positively this weekend.

Their style of play is more direct than most but three successive seasons of Premier League funding have allowed them to add greater depth and quality to the squad.

Sean Dyche's side have taken four points from three games but it could quite easily have been more.

They won the shot count 18-15 in a narrow 2-1 loss at Arsenal and were on the brink of a 1-0 victory at Wolves last Sunday until Raul Jimenez's penalty levelled the scores in the seventh minute of added time.

Ashley Barnes has been their star player, scoring four goals, and is the main threat to a Liverpool defence which hasn't exuded the confidence and calmness of last season.

An enforced change to the goalkeeping position hasn't helped, with Adrian stepping in for the injured Alisson, but the back four have to take a share of the responsibility because standards seem to have slipped.

Adrian was clearly at fault when Liverpool conceded a late goal in a 2-1 success at Southampton two weeks ago, but it was not his fault that Saints racked up 14 shots and missed some glorious chances.

Sloppy defending was also evident with the concession of a late goal in the 3-1 victory over Arsenal last weekend.

It leaves Liverpool without a clean sheet in five competitive games.

If they were to concede at Burnley, it would be their longest sequence of matches without a shutout since February to April 2017 when they conceded in seven consecutive games.

In the short term Klopp will not be massively concerned because he knows he has the firepower to outscore almost any opponents.

His front three have been among the goals and their pace and movement will be a massive threat to Burnley's defence, which can be vulnerable to swift counter-attacks.

Mohamed Salah started the season a little slowly but bagged a double against the Gunners last weekend and is the favourite to break the deadlock at Turf Moor.

Keeping Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino quiet may prove to be an impossible task but Burnley may grab a consolation goal and punters can profit by backing Liverpool to win and both teams to score.

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Liverpool to win & both teams to score

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