Klopp has made his feelings clear about the early kick-off – “I don’t know exactly why we play Burnley at 12 o’ clock on Sunday, Ask BT” – but no doubt his Liverpool squad have had the breakfast of champions. Well, penne. “I saw the pre-match meal at 8.30 this morning and saw all that pasta,” Klopp says. “Fortunately, I don’t have to eat it. That’s good, I don’t think I could. Having a pre-match meal so early … that’s the only major difference when it comes to kicking-off at 12.” There has been a lot of talk about his front three appearing fatigued – but Salah, Firmino and Mané all start. As for Sean Dyche, the bullish Burnley manager says: “People don’t expect much of us but that’s an extra reason for us to go out and play well. We intend to play well and we’ll take care of ourselves.”
Will Klopp be talking about the wind at full-time? It is a wet and wild day at Anfield, which is just how Burnley like it, according to the defender Phil Bardsley who insists Sean Dyche’s side are capable of knocking Liverpool out of their stride. Burnley are unchanged and their threat will largely comprise of the grisly pairing of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes. Burnley’s past nine goals have been scored by Barnes (five) or Wood (four).
Klopp on Lallana’s first start since 4 February. “Adam was exceptional during the week,” says the German. “So, in a situation where you think a little bit how you can adjust one or two things, it’s smart. He trained well for a while already but this week was especially well – that’s the reason why he starts. Burnley have big motivation, but as always our motivation is at its maximum.”
Team news news: Adam Lallana gets the nod in the Liverpool midfield, with Jordan Henderson dropping to the bench in one of two changes, with Roberto Firmino promoted to the starting lineup in place of Divock Origi. For Burnley, Peter Crouch has to make do with a place among the substitutes on his return to Anfield, while the captain Tom Heaton continues in goal. A big performance by Heaton could give Gareth Southgate, who names his next England squad on Wednesday, a big decision to make, with Jordan Pickford in erratic form. And then there’s Joe Hart.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Mané, Salah, Firmino
Subs: Mignolet, Lovren, Henderson, Keïta, Sturridge, Origi, Shaqiri
Burnley (4-4-2): Heaton; Bardsley, Mee, Tarkowski, Taylor; Westwood, Cork, McNeil, Hendrick; Barnes, Wood
Subs: Hart, Lowton, Brady, Gudmundsson, Vydra, Crouch, Gibson
Referee: Andre Marriner
For the first time in four months, Liverpool have assumed the role of the hunter. But, as Jürgen Klopp said after the goalless Merseyside derby last week, who cares who is top at the beginning of March anyway? “We are in a position we like to be in, it is not a problem,” insisted the Liverpool manager. “We wanted to be in a position to fight for the top spot in the league and we are still in it and that is all we need to be positive and optimistic.”
Still, Klopp is more concerned about the possibility of droves of Liverpool fans turning up at Anfield for a noon start half-hearted or, worse still, hungover; Klopp asked supporters to be wrapped up in bed by 10pm on Saturday night to ensure they could roar on his players come kick-off. His players certainly cannot afford to be off-colour. A fine Raheem Sterling hat-trick extended Manchester City’s lead at the league summit to four points, meaning anything other than victory over Burnley could in effect gift City passage to the title with eight games to play.
As for Burnley, they could also do with a win, though history suggests it is a tall order; Liverpool have not lost at home to the Clarets since 1974. Big victories for Southampton and Cardiff has upped the ante at the bottom, with Sean Dyche’s side heading into this one just two points above the relegation zone. Liverpool could welcome back Dejan Lovren, while James Milner is expected to be fit. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains sidelined after suffering a minor setback on his return from injury; he was substituted 41 minutes into a Under-23s match with a hamstring issue. Peter Crouch, meanwhile, could feature against his former club.
Kick-off: 12pm (GMT)