Liverpool enter December in red hot form. They’ve taken 30 points out of a possible 39 in the first 13 games of the season, and are fifteen games unbeaten in all competitions. On Tuesday evening, Klopp ran out a young side who managed to see off Leeds United to make it into the final four teams of the EFL Cup.
Their next challenge on Sunday will be heading to Vitality Stadium to take on a Bournemouth team who have had their own strong start to the season. The Cherries currently sit 12th on the table with 15 points. Last week they fell to Arsenal 3-1, but before that, they’d gotten good results against he likes of Stoke, Spurs, and Hull City, who they demolished 6-1 back in October.
Eddie Howe’s men will hope to create chances for Callum Wilson, returning this season after a bad injury kept him out most of the last, the team’s top goalscorer, to convert into goals. They’ll also be hoping that their recent signing of former Liverpool youngster Jordon Ibe will come back to bite the Reds.
Scoring against Liverpool isn’t as easy as it has been in the recent past however. Their defense has seen a vast improvement this season — and in the last month specifically. Though the opposition has been two defensive teams in Southampton and Sunderland, plus a Championship side in Leeds United, Liverpool haven’t conceded a goal now in over 285 minutes in all competitions.
With a more open Bournemouth team who have the likes of Wilson, and also Junior Stanislas and Ibe to hurt Liverpool on the break, Liverpool will face a tougher defensive battle on Sunday. Expect at least one nervy moment from one of Karius, Lovren, or Matip to stop your heart.
The flip side to this is that while Bournemouth look to attack, they leave themselves vulnerable at the back. They have a goal difference of -4 and have conceded 19, with 10 of them coming in heavy losses to Arsenal, Manchester United, and Manchester City. Even without Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge in the mix, on paper, Liverpool should have more than enough firepower with Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané, and Divock Origi — who has scored two goals in his last two games — to come out victorious. Whether what should happen is what does happen, however, remains to be seen.
Karius; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can; Mané, Origi, Firmino
Coutinho is out for at least a month and Sturridge has yet to return to training, so the only real question is over Adam Lallana. Klopp has said that he’s ready for Bournemouth, but whether the manager intends to start him or have him on the bench is another question. While no game is ever easy, etc., if giving Lallana another rest here means having him fit and ready as winter begins, I will take that trade-off.
The game kicks off Sunday afternoon at 1:30PM GMT/8:30AM EST, with the game set to be carried on NBC Sports Network in the US and Sky Sports 1 in the UK. Elsewhere, TSN1 in Canada, Star Sports Select HD1 in India, SuperSport 3 Africa in Kenya, and Astro SuperSport 3 in Malaysia are all carrying the match. You can find full listings at LivesoccerTV.
We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.