Well that was close until it wasn’t. Liverpool struggled to find clear chances in the first half against a game Bournemouth side. The Reds, as they have been wont to do this season, ramped it up in the second half to the tune of four goals for what became a comfortable win. Liverpool extend their lead at the top of the table to five points over Manchester City and Arsenal, though the City have played one fewer match.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
Alexis Mac Allister
The Argentinian midfielder had one of the best, if not his best, performances of the season. He led the team with 9 tackles and added in 3 interceptions and a clearance as well according to whoscored. He was also very involved on the attacking end, leading the team with 4 key passes and drew 3 fouls. He completed 87% of his 69 passes. Nice.
No Liverpool player has made more tackles in a Premier League game in the last eight seasons than Alexis Mac Allister against Bournemouth (9).— Squawka (@Squawka) January 21, 2024
He also won possession 15 times and won 14 duels. pic.twitter.com/YgDVORq4Lv
Unloading the xG Slingshot
Darwin Núñez continues to create chaos in the best possible ways. The ever present hard work was on display in the first half when the Reds struggled to create many good opportunities, but Darwin unloaded in the second half with the opening and closing goals of the match. He finished with an efficient 2 goals from 3 shots, with all of his shots ending up on target (though his fluffed volley didn’t seem to be counted here). He also created the chance that led to Diogo Jota’s opening goal with some good strength in a challenge and he generated an additional 3 shooting opportunities for others. Núñez now has 10 goals and 10 assists across all competitions this season.
10+10 - Darwin Núñez is the first Premier League player to register at least 10 goals and 10 assists in all competitions this season. Perfect. pic.twitter.com/J8CH7POUqB— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 21, 2024
Strike partner Diogo Jota was again fantastic, both stitching play together as well as showing off his keen eye for goal. Jota provided a fantastic one touch assist to Núñez for the opening goal before notching two goals himself. By the way, his two goals came from his only shots on the day. Jota now has 3 goals and 3 assists in his 242 minutes of play since returning from injury. That’s a goal or assist every 40 minutes. Seems good.
How good were Ibrahima Konaté and Virgil van Dijk today? The two center backs were on hand to clean up pretty much everything that made it past the midfield. The combined for 13 clearances and 5 blocked shots as they both covered a good bit of ground. Ibou also won 8 headers and was also quite good with his long passing out of the back.
Fullbacks Assisting...No, Not Those Fullbacks, The Other Ones
Stop me if you’ve heard this before — Liverpool’s fullbacks were heavily involved in the attack and provided a couple of assists. That all sounds pretty normal until you realize neither Trent Alexander-Arnold nor Any Robertson (or Kostas Tsimikas) were involved. Instead it was Conor Bradley and Joe Gomez providing assists.
Bradley was quite solid in his Premier League starting debut and showed off some great attacking instincts. A willing runner down the wing, he got forward quite often, and his availability lead to a joint team-high three shots. He put some good crosses into the box, but it was a cut back to Diogo Jota that was tallied on the score sheet for an assist. Meanwhile, Joe Gomez again was very good on the left side. He tucked inside as the inverted fullback in possession a decent bit and was generally very good on the ball. He did switch over to the right side late in the match, and from that spot he delivered a perfect curling cross that was touched home by Darwin Núñez for the fourth and final goal of the match.
Somehow Tierney continues to get assigned to Liverpool matches, serving as the VAR official today. He decided to not even have Andy Madley go take a look on the monitor after Luis Diaz got stomped on with a potentially leg-breaking tackle that wasn’t even deemed a foul on the field. Tierney also declined to have an additional review of a pretty clear penalty shout late in the match as Diogo Jota was clattered at the top of the box.
From the Manager
“Oh my god. A top, top player. Good aggression. He’s such a good footballer. He has speed, is aggressive, and has all the things you want to see.”
-Jürgen Klopp on young right back Conor Bradley
What Happens Next
Liverpool will look to continue their fine run of form as they head to London for the second leg of the EFL Cup semifinal with Fulham on Wednesday. The Reds have a goal advantage over the Cottagers after a 2-1 win at Anfield in the reverse fixture. The squad is still shorthanded, though it sounds like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dominic Szoboszlai may be fit by the end of the month.