AFC BOURNEMOUTH VS. LIVERPOOL
| Saturday, March 11th |
Premier League | Vitality Stadium
12:30PM GMT/7:30AM EST
Liverpool previously put nine goals past Bournemouth this season, but this version of the club is a different outfit: though the Cherries are still heavily in a relegation fight, they’ve picked up points you wouldn’t expect, and are far less open under their new manager.
Against Arsenal they scored from the kick-off, and the Gunners needed heroics with the last kick of the game to walk away with three points. The Reds would do well to watch the showreel of that match — which was an uphill battle for the league leaders — than that of their own high-scoring match earlier this season.
Gary O’Neill has made a good impact on Bournemouth, and is “looking forward” to facing Jürgen Klopp, who he knows from his time as the Liverpool U23s Assistant Manager.
In terms of injuries, Jefferson Lerma will be a late fitness call for O’Neill and his staff. He had featured in every game for Bournemouth this season, but was on the sidelines against Arsenal. Hamed Traorè and Marcus Tavernier are both out for the match against Liverpool, but Lewis Cook is back fit.
The match against Liverpool comes at the tail end of a tough run of fixtures, with the Cherries having faced both Arsenal and Manchester City prior to Liverpool’s arrival. They have Aston Villa next before the international break, but the fight they showed against Arsenal suggests they won’t be eyeing that as their next potential for points. Klopp and Liverpool will have work to do.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Bajčetić, Elliott; Salah, Núñez, Gakpo
Per Jürgen Klopp’s pre-match press conference, Thiago, Luis Díaz, and Joe Gomez are all unavailable for Saturday’s match, but Díaz is expected back next week and in the team following the international break.
Though the Reds have had a good week, certainly, following the demolition of Manchester United; the goal tally and the manner of the win will have added to Liverpool’s confidence as they continue fighting for a place in the top four.
Of course, complacency is a danger, given Bournemouth’s place in the league and the nature of the Reds’ last result against the Cherries. Certainly no one will be as pleased with Bournemouth’s hardy showing against Arsenal than Klopp, who will certainly have had his players taking notes on what this Bournemouth side can do.
In terms of personnel, The Reds have had a week since the last match, so rotation for fitness reasons is unlikely. The match mid-week against Real Madrid will come into play, however, so we could see some minor rotation with that in mind: both looking to give the likes of Stefan Bajčetić more minutes, and perhaps giving Ibrahima Konaté a night off since he’s recently returned from injury.
Regardless, the Bournemouth match is a must-win, both in terms of table position and confidence: the Reds have the chance to draw level on points with Tottenham in the early kick-off, and though the 12:30 PM kick-off is never something you want in terms of atmosphere and preparation, it’s certainly an opportunity to ramp up the pressure on surrounding teams.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: ““I knew after the 9-0 it wouldn’t be easy when we go there. It’s motivation for them. We don’t play at home and our points tally in away games is far away from the top. We have to create the atmosphere we need on the pitch and use it.”
Gary O’Neill: “The lads will prepare for this like it’s another game against a very, very good side. They’re in good form at the moment and have fantastic attacking threat. It’ll be a tough ask, of course, but we approach the game as one that we need to take three points from.”
Referee: John Brooks Assistants: Darren Cann, Matthew Wilkes Fourth Official: Stuart Attwell VAR: Tony Harrington Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis.
Kickoff is set for 12:30PM GMT/7:30AM EST tomorrow. Stick with The Liverpool Offside team to keep yourself up to date with team news and match buildup, live updates, and post-match reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.