Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League table and to form with a comprehensive victory over Bournemouth at Anfield yesterday afternoon, with the midfield in particular standing out with fantastic individual performances:
After two deflating draws to Leicester and West Ham respectively, the Reds really needed to pick up all three points, especially in the wake of Man City’s return to the top of the table after a midweek victory against Everton.
In what was a frantic and highly entertaining game, Liverpool opened the scoring thanks to Sadio Mane, who converted a header from Milner’s cross to mark a fourth goal in four consecutive games and really settle the early sense of nerves around Anfield; despite the pressure surrounding the game, the crowd was more than up for the occasion throughout, giving the team exactly the boost that was needed.
Although he was separated from the rest of the team at the hotel on Friday prior to the game due to vomiting and sickness, Gini Wijnaldum showed no signs of that yesterday, putting in an incredible display alongside Fabinho and Keita in midfield. He marked his display with his second goal of the season — a sublime lob leaving Artur Boruc helpless in the Bournemouth net.
Minutes after half-time, Liverpool put the result in no doubt with a sensational team move — Keita played a ball over the top to Firmino, who played a lovely flick onto Salah, who put away a calm finish into the bottom corner for his 20th goal of the season in all competitions.
The scoreline could have been more emphatic if it weren’t for Boruc, with both Keita and a returning Alexander-Arnold having opportunites to get themselves on the scoresheet.
It was a display which will hopefully restore Liverpool’s confidence going into the crucial Champions League tie with Bayern Munich in 10 days time, while marking a real statement of intent in the title race.
Was barely tested but still made a decent save to deny Fraser’s shot in the opening minutes.
James Milner: 7.5
Put in a reliable shift down the right hand side and put in an excellent cross to assist Mane for the opener.
Joel Matip: 7
Much improved from his poor display against West Ham, although had a few shaky moments when attempting to clear the ball. Could have got himself assist of the season if his long-ball was better controlled by Firmino.
Virgil Van Dijk: 7
Dominated the game as usual without ever really standing out, there was a true sense of ease about Van Dijk’s performance. Will be sorely missed against Bayern.
Andy Robertson: 8.5
Back to his best providing a great outlet down the left, Robbo got himself an eighth assist of the season with a lovely pass to Wijnaldum. His ability to win the ball back with a recovery tackle shouldn’t be overlooked.
Thrived at the base of midfield, putting in crunching tackles and plenty of fantastic balls over the top to Mane and Salah. Makes such a positive impact defensively to the side and gave Wijnaldum and Keita the licence to roam forward.
Naby Keita: 8.5
After drawing ire from some section of fans for his recent displays, there won’t have been many complaints about Keita for his showing yesterday. Was more than solid defensively and played his part in the third goal with a delightful ball over the top to Firmino. Looked much more confident and can hopefully find it as something to build on.
Gini Wijnaldum: 9 (Man of the Match)
His absence was certainly felt against West Ham and he really showed his value against the Cherries. Got himself forward more than usual and was rewarded with a goal after his chip found its way over Boruc with style. A really impressive showing.
Mo Salah: 9
Back on the right-hand side, Salah was excellent and a constant threat to the Bournemouth defence. Almost scored in the first-half with a volley from 30 yards out but made amends for this is the second half with a composed finish into the bottom corner.
Roberto Firmino: 8
Looking significantly better up front, Firmino was involved in the majority of Liverpool’s good play, while his flick into Salah’s path for the third goal was great.
Sadio Mane: 8.5
Scored the opener with a deft header, Mane was yet again one of the Reds’ more influential performers, standing out with his work rates and energy levels. Seems to be one of the players unfazed in his determination to propel Liverpool to the league title.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (for Wijnaldum, 77′): 7
Klopp will be delighted to have Alexander-Arnold back as an option, with the youngster bombing down the right flank and even having the chance to get himself on the score sheet late on.
Divock Origi (for Mane, 87′): N/A
Didn’t have enough time to make an impact but still showed a willingness to get involved.
Daniel Sturridge (for Firmino, 90′): N/A
Was only on the pitch for a matter of seconds but interesting to see Origi once again favoured ahead of him in the pecking order. His Anfield career looks to be drawing to a muted close.