Liverpool vs Bournemouth Preview: Can Reds manage minus Mane?
Liverpool are well on the home stretch now in terms of the league season, with every game even more important than the last, Bournemouth the next opponents.
The Reds will face off against Eddie Howe’s Cherries in a mid-week schedule of games that will again play a big part in who finds themselves in a top four place come the end of the season.
Match: Liverpool vs AFC Bournemouth
Date: Wednesday 5th April
Time: 20:00 BST
Up the in-form Reds. January’s woes seem long gone, with Liverpool now back in the driving seat for a top four spot after a string of successive performances, the latest being a comprehensive 3-1 win over rivals Everton in the Merseyside derby.
However, Bournemouth are a team that really need to be seen off, given that the Reds’ next two are Stoke City and West Brom away, arguably the two toughest games that Liverpool will play this season outside of facing their fellow Champions League / title challengers.
The Cherries will provide tough opposition, especially given they’re unbeaten in four and have the Manager of the Month for March at their helm, with Howe having pulled his team away from relegation trouble by picking up two wins and a draw at Old Trafford last month. On Saturday evening, they were a missed Harry Arter penalty away from beating Southampton away, eventually drawing 0-0.
There was one disappointing part of Liverpool giving Everton the derby day blues, and that was an injury picked up by Sadio Mane. Despite the likes of Emre Can and Dejan Lovren having come out unscathed from dangerous Everton tackles, Mane wasn’t so lucky when going for a 50-50 with Leighton Baines, damaging his knee and leaving him out of action for a couple of weeks at best.
Of Klopp’s preferred starting XI, that’s now three players out as Mane joins Henderson and Lallana on the sidelines, whilst Emre Can wasn’t spotted in training on Monday, providing a fresh worry. Lucas and Divock Origi are likely to be handed starts. Daniel Sturridge is back in first-team training, but an appearance from him would be a surprise.
Bournemouth have one of the shortest injury lists in the league, fortunately for them. However, one of those sidelined is influential striker Callum Wilson, his continued absence being an issue for the South Coast side.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Can, Lucas, Wijnaldum; Origi, Coutinho, Firmino.
Predicted Bournemouth XI: Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Arter, Gosling, Pugh, Fraser; Afobe, King.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
There’s revenge on the cards for Liverpool here after a terrible final 20 minutes the last time they played Bournemouth, earlier this season down south. It looked like it would be a routine win for the Reds as they stormed into a 3-1 lead, only to blow it late on, losing 4-3 as Nathan Ake scored a stoppage time winner.
PREDICTION: LIVERPOOL 1-1 BOURNEMOUTH
I was worried about Everton, I was wrong to. I’m worried about this one, prove me wrong again Liverpool. No Mane often equals a lack of penetration against the smaller teams, and I’m worried that Klopp will start Lucas fairly pointlessly. Let’s throw in Trent, lets take a risk and have a go. If not, I fear that we’ll struggle to score more than one and Bournemouth will grab a goal against our leaky defence.