Bournemouth v Liverpool - The PL Preview
In a week that has seen the Liverpool fan base able to revel in the 7-0 win against their bitter rivals, Manchester United, the next fixture has them traveling to the south coast, in a battle to continue their good run against Bournemouth. The last meeting of the sides saw the Reds achieve an eye watering 9-0 home win, that gave false hope after an uncertain start to the season. That game (in late August) seems a life time ago, with so many disappointing moments (for both teams) in the months since. The 20th placed team are still very much in a relegation battle with the entire bottom half, whereas the Reds are hoping to continue their charge for a top four finish.
In terms of availability, the Cherries boss, Gary O’Neil, will be missing David Brooks, Matias Vina Susperreguy, and Junior Stanislas, though will hoping to have Lloyd Kelly, Illia Zabarnyi, Marcus Tavernier, and Jefferson Lerma fit and ready for the Saturday match up. The final thirteen games of their season will need to see them find some degree of form, with just five points taken from their previous six games. Their last outing saw them lose 3-2, in a painfully unlucky trip to table toppers, Arsenal. With that game having them take a surprise two goal lead, it perhaps showed their frailty against the more elite attacking sides, with the gunners fighting back to claim maximum points. The match week prior saw them soundly beaten 1-4 at home, with Manchester City rolling over them, in a one-sided contest.
The starting line-up will see Neto remain in goal, with Jordan Zemura or Lloyd Kelly starting on the left of a back five. On the right, Adam Smith should continue, as Marcos Senesi, Jack Stephens, and Chris Mepham remain as the central defensive group. The impressive Philip Billing will start in central midfield, with Joe Rothwell beside him. The flanks should see Antoine Semenyo and Dango Ouattara keep their spots, with a compact middle area imposed. The lone striking role will see Dominic Solanke starting against his former teammates, with their record signing hoping to add to his four goals this term.
Liverpool come into this game in very good form, with some sensible rotation of the side seeing them record a sensational 7-0 home win against United. That emphatic win came after a solid 2-0 win against Wolves. With a week to recover and regroup, hopefully Jürgen Klopp will be able to realign his team and ensure the intensity maintains within his squad. There have been many disheartening results this season, though it could be that this recent run of Premier League games may see them finish the weekend in the top four. Tottenham have to face a desperate Nottingham Forest on Saturday, though that will come after Spurs face off against AC Milan in the Champions League. If the Reds were to win and Antonio Conte’s men were to lose, it would be a confidence building way of ending the weekend.
On the injury front, Jürgen Klopp is still without Luis Diaz (probably), Arthur Melo, Calvin Ramsay, Thiago Alcantara, and Joe Gomez. Naby Keïta has a slight knock, though his future inclusion is now in doubt, given his recent showing. Our Colombian winger appears to be close to a return, though recent reports of an appearance (this weekend) seem premature.
Alisson Becker will start in goal, with the colossal pair of Virgil and Ibrahima Konaté starting ahead of him. Andy Robertson should start once more, whilst Trent Alexander Arnold should also retain his place, after a very good showing from the pair last Sunday. With some rotation more likely for the trip to Madrid, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, and Harvey Elliott should keep their shirts, with only Stefan Bajčetić potentially coming into the side. The attack has to see the goal scoring trio of Darwin, Salah, and Cody Gakpo retained, with three points an absolute must, this Saturday lunch time.
The encouraging high of last Sunday needs to be managed by Klopp, as we have seen his side struggle to carry consistency into so many of their games. With a level renewed fight and ever enhancing chance of pushing into the Champions League spots, this should see Liverpool overpower the home side, especially with 51 goals conceded (by Bournemouth) so far this season.
Player to watch – Cody Gakpo