LIVERPOOL VS. BOURNEMOUTH
| Saturday, August 19th |
Premier League | Anfield
3PM GMT/10AM EST
Bournemouth are starting the season with a promising new head coach, Andoni Iraola, who will likely work to get his side to play exciting football — though we didn’t see much of that in Bournemouth’s opening match at home against West Ham.
Lloyd Kelly, who missed matchday one, is once again fit and will be traveling with the squad. The other two who missed out against the Hammers, Dango Outtara and Lewis Cook, remain sidelined for this weekend, and the likes of Adam Smith, Ryan Fredericks, and Marcus Tavernier are a ways off from recovery, forcing Bournemouth to start the season with a depleted squad.
Last season Bournemouth were relatively low-scoring, their form tended to follow the fitness of former-Red Dominic Solanke, who scored to secure a draw in the opening match. Solanke has caused Liverpool problems before, and will be one to watch at Anfield. His goal last weekend was exactly what Liverpool won’t want to see: a clever, tight run behind the defense, clever movement on the ball to beat the keeper, followed by a confident, easy finish.
In his pre-match press conference, Iraola told the press that he hopes to match Liverpool’s high press, looking to counter quickly while dealing with Liverpool’s threats.
Like Liverpool, Bournemouth are also a team in flux: players are not yet 100% fit, and some players, like James Hill, have been played out of position to plug gaps. They are short at the base of their midfield (imagine that), and had been looking into Tyler Adams this window. Once again, this is shaping up to be a match of two teams crying out for a solid number six.
The Cherries have a new manager who is looking to install his own style of play, with mixed results in their opening match of the campaign: a lot of promising attacking play was on display, but at times Bournemouth looked out of shape or uncertain. That an attacking identity is emerging is clear, though, even if the full system isn’t 100% nailed down at all times. In La Liga, Iraola got results against Barcelona (twice) and Real Madrid, so it’s reasonable to expect Bournemouth to stick with their new approach despite Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Their new signings are youthful and promising, and all fit the style of play Iraola is looking to implement. Notable signings include Alex Scott (not the former Arsenal right back-turned presenter) from Bristol City, a versatile midfielder who we might see anchoring the midfield. Scott is primarily an attacking midfielder, but puts in a lot of tackles; he has been compared to Jack Grealish, particularly in terms of his propensity for drawing fouls (2.3 on average per match, which was the highest in the second-tier last season). Luckily for the Reds, Scott is still recovering from a knee injury and will be unlikely to feature tomorrow.
The Cherries have added their own Hungarian talent in Milos Kerkez, a promising young left back, as well as Justin Kluivert, a 24-year-old Dutch attacker from Leipzig; Hamad Traorè, a 23-year-old Ivory Coast attacking midfielder; alongside the more familiar Max Aarons (from Norwich). Bournemouth also have Lorient’s Romain Faivre in on loan to bolster their midfield.
Last season, Bournemouth were susceptible to set plays: they conceded 21 from these opportunities, 16 from corners. Alongside others, Virgil Van Dijk might be licking his lips and thinking about his curling effort narrowly off target against Chelsea: perhaps a more traditional goal for the centerback to open his account as captain?
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson; Jones, Endo, Mac Allister; Salah, Jota, Díaz
Liverpool will continue without Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago Alcantara, with both players recovering from similar problems that cannot be rushed.
Head coach Jürgen Klopp expressed dissatisfaction with his side’s performance against Chelsea on the opening match day, noting that 33% possession “is an absolute joke.” The Liverpool boss noted that the Reds lacked rhythm and were not settled enough — issues he hopes will be fixed against Bournemouth, despite the newness of the season.
Liverpool might well look similar to the side that lined up at Stamford Bridge, though Klopp has the perpetual difficulty of choosing which of his attacking talents will get the start.
It is possible Liverpool’s new signing, Wataru Endo, the Japanese captain, could start Saturday (Chelsea was able to field their Friday signing last week, after all), though bringing in a midfielder cold is quite the bold move, even if everything is finalized in time.
Instead, we could see something closer to the line-up from last weekend, perhaps with one or two changes (maybe — if fit — Curtis Jones will come in for either Dominik Szoboszlai or Cody Gakpo in midfield, and/or Gakpo will be up front in place of either Diogo Jota or Luis Díaz. Regardless, Klopp will hope to field a team with too much firepower for Bournemouth, even if both sides are not as compete or settled as they would want to be.
Notable for the officiating team: Paul Tierney, who is the official Klopp consistently disagrees with, is on VAR. Certainly something to watch.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “[Bournemouth] will press us properly. They have an offensive approach. They will try to get behind the line. It’s not the most complicated football idea but it’s a good one.
Androni Iraola: “We have to have a very resilient collective attitude and to suffer those minutes when they are pushing, taking corners and crosses. We will have our moments where we can damage them.”
Referee: Thomas Bramall Assistants: Simon Bennett, Dan Robathan Fourth official: Steve Martin VAR: Paul Tierney Assistant VAR: Constantine Hatzidakis.
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