Liverpool vs AFC Bournemouth
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Another weekend means more Premier League football and the race for the title goes on. Manchester City took their chance on Wednesday night to pile the pressure on their North-West rivals as they regained top spot, albeit on goal difference and with Liverpool having a game in hand.
Liverpool come into this one off the back of a mini-slump. They drew 1-1 to Leicester at home followed by another 1-1 draw away from home against West Ham meaning the gap which was once seven points is now a measly zero and could be a maximum of three with a win against travelling Bournemouth.
With that being said, the pressure on Liverpool has been ramped up and Klopp needs to find a way for his side to thrive off it rather than continue with the trend of falling just short, as they have done recently. There is hope they do see this rough patch through and come out the other side mostly unscathed.
Bournemouth are no pushovers though; they have shown countless times that they can get results against the bigger sides and have done so against Liverpool over the years. More recently, Liverpool have won the last three including the earlier fixture this season 0-4. Back in the 2016/17 season Howe’s men managed to take four points from six in the two fixtures against the Reds. Liverpool will have to be careful here and Bournemouth are fresh off the back of hammering Chelsea 4-0 before being beaten by Cardiff 2-0 in what seemed to be a one-off.
The sides have met seven times in the Premier League with Liverpool taking five wins and being defeated once in return (the big 4-3 comeback on the South Coast) so it is the Reds who hold the historic form and they have won the last three with 11 goals scored and 0 conceded.
This doesn’t bode well for Bournemouth and with some of the injuries they have to key players they may struggle. Eddie Howe may decide to opt for a 3-4-3 system at Anfield as he has done a few times away from home this season, against the likes of Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City as opposed to the usual 4-4-2.
Liverpool have to be careful as when Bournemouth play to win, they can upset sides of all shapes and sizes; no matter their pedigree. Yet, with the last two results opening the title race once more, Liverpool will be determined to pick up all three and jump back to the top of the table.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson all missing from the previous game, Klopp confirmed all three players returned to training this week but the fixture may come too soon for all with Wijnaldum looking the more promising of the three. Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez are still confirmed injured whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is stepping up his rehabilitation and may feature in Klopp’s plans towards the end of this month.
The Cherries will be without top scorer Callum Wilson and also the young attacking midfielder David Brooks but they are monitoring the fitness of Jefferson Lerma who may be fit enough to start for Howe. Nathaniel Clyne is out as he cannot feature against his parent club but Dominic Solanke could feature against his former side. Simon Francis and Lewis Cook also remain sidelined.
Predicted Starting XIs
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Milner, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mane; Salah.
Bournemouth (3-4-3) Boruc; Ake, S Cook, Mepham; Smith, Gosling, Surman, Daniels; Stanislas, King, Fraser.
Score Prediction: Liverpool 3 Bournemouth 1
I truly believe Liverpool can back on track in front of the Anfield faithful. Bournemouth will definitely come to win, they always do when they play, but I think a resilient and ambitious Liverpool topple them over after a small rough spell with not one but two 1-1 draws on the bounce for Klopp’s men. The manager and players will want to bounce back with three points as soon as possible and Bournemouth, unfortunately, will take the brunt of this.