Liverpool romped back to the top of the Premier League with a scintillating 3-0 win over Bournemouth that could have been much more. It’s a result that ends the Reds’ miniature blip of two draws in a row and sends a message out that they’re not about to let this title race slip away from them.
For all of the power, skill and technical genius on display, things could have been very different for Liverpool as a shaky start allowed Ryan Fraser to sting the palms of Alisson early doors. But from there, Liverpool took complete control of the game, with both Salah and Firmino firing off warning shots at the end of some decent build-up play.
And when Liverpool did take the lead, it came from a set-piece, so often the Reds’ crucial outlet against stubborn defences. Although Milner’s original cross was cleared, his second ball in after good work from Naby Keita found Sadio Mané, who powered in his fourth goal in as many games. There was a hint of offside about it all, but it was very tight, and Mané won’t care either way.
From there, it was one-way traffic. A bad miss from Mo Salah, and a poor piece of control from Roberto Firmino did nothing but give Bournemouth the briefest of respites, as Robertson’s ball over the top found Gini Wijnaldum, and Gini’s outrageous lob put the Reds 2-0 up before half-time. It was a goal of truly sumptuous quality, and almost the goal that best summed up the match.
That goal however, ended up being the third. After Salah had nearly single-handedly scored a screamer of a third goal, he put the finishing touches onto a sublime team-move straight after the break. It started with a throw-in in Liverpool’s own half, but only took three passes to decimate Bournemouth. Mané took a couple of defenders out of the game, Keita played an extraordinary pass over the top, and Firmino flicked the ball into Salah’s path for the Egyptian to do the rest.
And having gone 3-0 up so early into the second half, it’s a wonder that the game finished that way – as Liverpool ended up missing all of their best chances in the second half. First Mané headed wide after yet more brilliance from Salah and Wijnaldum; then Salah hit the bar after some excellent work from Firmino; and then Bobby himself missed arguably the best chance of the lot – in on goal with players either side and shooting straight at Boruc. Even Alexander-Arnold nearly got in on the act late on, only to be denied by Boruc who in truth had a really good game, a sign of just how dominant Liverpool were.
If Liverpool needed to deliver an emphatic statement, then they certainly did that. This was a brilliant team performance, a game utterly controlled by the midfield, with each of the front three contributing – two of them scoring – and both full-backs notching assists. This was a game in which there arguably was no weak link, and any rust or ill-effects from the Dubai trip seem firmly in the past.
And with two huge games coming up against Bayern Munich and Man United, it’s a huge boost for the Reds that Trent and Gini are back and look 100% fit, and Henderson on the bench as well. We’re going into a pivotal area of the season and only have Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain injured, although Shaqiri was missing today with a minor strain.
Ahead of City’s game against Chelsea, this was a healthy reminder to everyone in football that Liverpool are still a fantastic football team. And they aren’t going anywhere.