Liverpool have the opportunity to return to the top of the Premier League when they take on Bournemouth at Anfield on Saturday, hoping to return to form after an underwhelming draw last time out to West Ham.
Although the title currently remains in Liverpool’s hands, thanks to Man City’s win over Everton midweek coupled with the Reds’ worrying form, particularly from a defensive standpoint, it’s fair to say that the levels of optimism have decreased on Merseyside.
Monday’s game followed the trend set by the Leicester match, where the Reds seemed to be suffering from stage fright in the midst of being favourites for the title; the defending (especially of set-pieces) was horrendous at times.
With Spurs now right in the mix as well, 3 points is a necessity if Liverpool want to regain a foothold in the title race and it is crucial the atmosphere is electric tomorrow.
If there was one word to describe Bournemouth’s form this season, it would be unpredictable.
While they have shown to be a very good sign with plenty of attacking flair, evidenced by their 4-0 victory over Chelsea a few weeks back, they followed this up with a 2-0 defeat to relegation threatened Cardiff on Saturday, which makes it difficult to know just which Bournemouth side are going to turn up.
Considering how a decade ago they were languishing in League 2 on the brink of administration, sitting 10th in the Premier League is an incredible achievement and praise for Eddie Howe should be endless considering what he’s managed with the Cherries.
However, Liverpool should certainly take homage in their opponent’s away form; Bournemouth have lost their last 8 games on the road and have failed to pick up all 3 points since October.
Yet with Europa League football remaining something of a possibility, the visitors are certainly not to be underestimated.
Last Meeting (Bournemouth 0 Liverpool 4, December 8th 2018)
Liverpool’s last encounter with Bournemouth came two months back, where a Mo Salah hat-trick and Steve Cook own goal marked an emphatic victory at the Vitality Stadium.
Salah was in sensational form that day, the highlight coming on his third goal, where he showed excellent composure to round Begovic before slotting it calmly into the back of the net.
Despite their dramatic 4-3 victory over the Reds a few years back remaining one of the most memorable wins in the history of the club, Howe’s side have really struggled against Liverpool since then, conceding 11 goals in their last 3 matches against them.
You have to hope tomorrow ends in the same fashion.
Liverpool have been buoyed by the big news that Trent Alexander-Arnold is ready to return after a month out with a knee injury and should go straight back into the side at right-back.
Another bonus is that both Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum have returned from minor injuries that caused them to miss the trip to the Olympic Stadium and are in with a chance of featuring.
Joe Gomez remains side-lined, while there has been no positive update on the fitness of Dejan Lovren, thus meaning that Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip will remain at the heart of the defence.
Despite both edging closer to fitness, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster will be absentees.
The Cherries remain without star striker Callum Wilson, who has just gone under an operation on his knee, while David Brooks is also out with an ankle problem.
Nathaniel Clyne is unable to play against his parent club after moving to the South Coast on loan last month, yet Dominic Solanke could be set to start against his former club after completing a £20m move from Anfield back in January.
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita, Salah, Firmino, Mane
Boruc, Smith, Cook, Ake, Daniels, Stanislas, Gosling, Surman, Fraser, King, Solanke
Liverpool 2 Bournemouth 1