Sky Sports reporter @GregWhelan1
James Tarkowski exclusive: The task of stopping leaders Liverpool
Watch Burnley vs Liverpool on Saturday from 5pm on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off 5.30pm
Last Updated: 31/08/19 7:23am
Liverpool travel to Turf Moor this weekend looking to make it four Premier League wins out of four this season and to add to the nine goals they've scored already. A challenging 90 minutes await Burnley's back four. This week, James Tarkowski told Sky Sports how he'll approach it.
"I think one of their biggest threats is their energy," he says. "Whenever you look at a Liverpool game on TV they always seem to start so fast, so full of energy. They blow teams away.
"You know that you're going to get tested one-on-one at times and that you have to win your battles and not be beaten too easily. You need to hold them up for a few seconds and to get your team-mates around you. As a team it's about keeping those distances between you short."
The art of defending is a skillset which Tarkowski has been fine-tuning since Sean Dyche - a former central defender himself - brought him to Burnley in 2016.
"I have a little saying in my head before the game - do my basics right. It's probably the last reminder I give myself before the whistle goes. It's about getting in good positions, not turning my back defensively and organising.
"Everyone's strong, everyone's sharp, quick and agile. There's that side to the game which everyone needs at this level but I think that being able to read the game and to know where to be at the right time to stop the danger is probably the most important thing."
In the early years of his career with Oldham and Brentford, Tarkowski's reputation was one of a ball-playing defender rather than one in the classic English centre-back mould.
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"I was a midfielder for a lot of my younger years and to get on the ball quite a lot was something that I really enjoyed," he says. "Since I've come here the manager's been able to use that side of my game to some extent but also to bring out the other side which is important at this level. He knew that I was capable of doing it to a good standard but he needed to drill it into me for me to learn."
So impressive was his form in his first full season in the Burnley first team that England manager Gareth Southgate took notice. Tarkowski was capped twice in 2018 in friendlies against Italy and Switzerland. Having missed out on the squad for September's European Qualifiers he is determined to play his way back into contention.
"To have been part of different squads, to have been on standby for the World Cup - I feel honoured and fortunate in a sense," he says. "But now I want to keep pushing to be in more squads and play more games for England. I've got a taste for it and I feel I'm good enough to be around it.
"I just hope that the people who are looking at me now and are trying to judge me can also see the player that I was before I came to Burnley, the different sides to my game that I've shown and the way I've played for England."
For now, he's focused on helping his team to make a positive start to the new Premier League campaign. Had they not conceded a stoppage-time penalty at Wolves last weekend they would have taken six points from their first three games. It's an improvement however on how they began last season. Tarkowski admits that the absence of Europa League football this time around might be working in their favour.
"You maybe lose a bit of focus on the Premier League because you've a lot going on with the travelling and the training abroad," he says. "We had a full pre-season's training and I feel like this is the fittest team I've seen, everyone's putting in a high level of performance, fitness-wise. I think it shows because we're going right to the 99th minute in games and pushing teams to the end."
Burnley are now in their fourth successive season in the Premier League. That experience, Tarkowski feels, stands them in better stead when they face teams like Liverpool.
"Initially when we came into this league we used to say it's a bit of a free one - everyone's expecting us to get beaten," he says. "Now we're going into these games wanting to get something out of them. We expect a lot of ourselves and we've taken points from big teams before so there's no reason why we can't do it again."