Liverpool vs Bournemouth
Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off saw Liverpool play host to Bournemouth.
The Merseyside powerhouse are all but certain to be crowned Premier League champions this year, amid an emphatic season.
But Liverpool’s form has dipped off of late, and they had lost three of their last four games across all competitions before today.
Their last PL tie resulted in a 3-0 hammering at the hands of Watford.
And whilst the result on Saturday wasn’t too important to the Reds, as they are so far clear of 2nd placed Manchester City, you would imagine that they would have been desperate for a win to regain some momentum ahead of their crucial Champions League second-leg tie with Atletico Madrid.
As for Bournemouth, they kicked off at Anfield in the relegation zone, and winless in three league outings.
Anything other than a loss vs Jurgen Klopp’s side would have seen them move out of the bottom three, though.
Liverpool put out a pretty strong starting line-up on Saturday, with the most noticeable absentees Alisson and Andy Robertson.
As for Bournemouth, their starting eleven was pretty close to full strength.
Liverpool XI: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Milner, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxalde-Chamberlian, Mane, Salah, Firmino.
Bournemouth XI: Ramsdale, Smith, Ake, Cook, Stacey, Lerma, Billing, Cook, Fraser, Wilson, Stanislas.
Liverpool may have lost to Chelsea earlier this week, but that display was certainly much better than the one we saw vs Watford.
And the Reds started in a similarly bright fashion vs the Cherries, with Eddie Howe’s side sat deep and attempting to hit Liverpool on the counter.
Despite Liverpool’s early dominance, though, it would be Bournemouth who broke the deadlock after Callum Wilson tapped in Jefferson Lerma’s pass inside nine minutes.
Liverpool wanted the goal chalked off after Wilson looked to have pushed Joe Gomez in the build-up to the opener, but nothing was given after a VAR check.
The momentum of the tie then seemed to switch in Bournemouth’s favour after that rather surprising opening goal.
Nathan Ake came inches away from doubling Bournemouth’s lead 13 minutes in, but Adrian made a decent save.
Roberto Firmino then had Liverpool’s first half-chance of the day, forcing a good save out of Aaron Ramsdale.
Bournemouth’s Steve Cook suffered an injury during the build-up to Firmino’s chance, and was replaced with 18 minutes gone.
Liverpool would begin to gain a bit more control over the tie after Cook’s departure. Mohamed Salah would equalise for the Champions League holders after 24 minutes, capitalising on an error from Jack Simpson, who had just come on for the aforementioned Cook.
Simpson made up for his error minutes later, though, cutting out a ball that would have fallen to an open Sadio Mane in the Bournemouth six-yard box.
Simpson could do nothing about Mane’s goal after 32 minutes, however. Bournemouth left a huge gap in their backline, which Mane exploited, calmly slotting past Ramsdale to complete Liverpool’s comeback.
The first-half drew to a close with Liverpool in front, and controlling proceedings.
Liverpool back to winning ways
The second 45 began with Bournemouth penned back in their own half, as Liverpool looked to find another opening.
But for all of Liverpool’s dominance, it would be the Cherries who came close to bagging the first goal of the second-half.
Eddie Howe’s side were only denied by a superb acrobatic clearance from James Milner.
Liverpool then had a number of chances to kill the game off.
Mane hit the woodwork 73 minutes in, Salah came close three minutes later and Roberto Firmino probably should have scored in injury-time.
The final whistle would blow with the score still at 2-1, earning Liverpool a much-needed victory on the back of some poor results.
Improvements needed before Atletico Madrid
Saturday’s tie was by no means a perfect display from Liverpool, though.
The soon-to-be Premier League champions looked somewhat shaky at the back. This may have been due, in part, to the absence of both Alisson and Robertson.
But Alisson will not be fit on Wednesday when Liverpool welcome Atletico to Anfield. So, they must, once again, get used to playing without their main shot-stopper.
The Reds also looked somewhat susceptible to counter-attacks vs Bournemouth. And given the fact that they are set to play a very defensive-minded Atletico side who are already defending a lead, you would imagine that the Spanish outfit will deploy a similar approach next week.
So, given Atletico have a lot more quality than Bournemouth, Liverpool will need to shore up those defensive frailties before Wednesday, or risk crashing out of the Champions League.
Liverpool’s build-up play was also quite slow for large periods vs Bournemouth, and again, if they play in a similarly sluggish fashion in the CL, it will likely be a lot harder to break Atletico down.