27 October 2015

Liverpool v Bournemouth 10.28.15

3:45pm ET, delayed coverage at 6pm ET on BeIN Sports USA (technically, it's available live at online-only BeIN Sports Connect, but that program works approximately never for me)

Last four head-to-head:
1-0 Liverpool (h) 08.17.15
3-1 Liverpool (a; League Cup) 12.17.14
2-0 Liverpool (a; FA Cup) 01.25.14
4-1 Liverpool (h; FA Cup) 01.30.68

Last round(s):
Liverpool: 1-1 Carlisle aet [3-2 pens] (h)
Bournemouth: 2-2 Preston aet [3-2 pens] (a); 4-0 Hartlepool (a)

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-1 Southampton (h); 1-1 Kazan (h); 0-0 Tottenham (a)
Bournemouth: 1-5 Tottenham (h); 1-5 City (a); 1-1 Watford (h)

Goalscorers (all):
Liverpool: Benteke, Ings 3; Lallana, Sturridge 2; Can, Coutinho, Milner 1
Bournemouth: Wilson 5; Gosling, Murray, Pugh, Ritchie, Stanislas 2; Cook, Kermorgant, MacDonald 1

Referee: Mike Jones

Guess at a line-up:
Clyne Skrtel Toure Moreno
Allen Can
Brannagan Firmino Ibe

You'd assume there'd be a plethora of changes: three matches in eight days prior, Chelsea to come three days after. But I still have no idea what to expect under this manager, and Liverpool's squad remains hamstrung by injuries, with the added bonus of Milner's suspension after his fifth yellow card.

There are a few under-21s in contention, I guess, although I'll readily admit I know little about them. Chirivella and Brannagan – who just signed a new long-term contract – both appeared at Bordeaux a month ago, Conor Randall's been on the bench in all three of Klopp's matches, Teixeira and Sinclair were on the bench in Klopp's first at Tottenham.

Coutinho, Lallana, and Lucas seemingly have to be rested. I'd suggest similar for at least three of Liverpool's four defenders, but Liverpool don't really have any other defenders. Even though Randall's made the bench in the last three matches, he's never played a first team minute. Jose Enrique? Still not a thing that exists. Is Lovren injured or just out of favor? So let's just say Toure for Sakho – as we'll forever remain worried about Sakho's ability to stay fit – and just hope the legs of other three don't fall off.

Allen will almost certainly come back into the side, one of the few players I'd guarantee to start. Were Rossiter available, he'd certainly start as well, but without, Liverpool's choices are Can again – the only player to feature in every match so far this season – or Chirivella.

Finally, the above also assumes starts for both Benteke and Firmino, ready from the beginning after substitute appearances against Kazan and Southampton. Maybe they're still not ready, maybe they'll be protected for Saturday. If not, well, Teixeira or Brannagan or (sigh) Coutinho or Lallana instead of Firmino; Origi or Sinclair instead of Benteke. Like Allen, Ibe's almost guaranteed to play, taking up one of the two or three attacking midfield berths, one of Liverpool's few second-choice options available and very much in need of game time.

We'll see a different Bournemouth side than Liverpool faced two months ago. Three starters – Callum Wilson, Tommy Elphick, and Max Gradel – are out injured, as is Mings and Arter, Bournemouth with as many injury problems as Liverpool have. At the same time, Eddie Howe rotated his side almost completely for both previous rounds.

If Howe sticks with the XI we've seen recently, it'll be something like Boruc; Francis, Cook, Distin, Daniels; Ritchie, Gosling, Surman, Pugh; Murray, King. If he rotates, Federici's an option in goal, Adam Smith at either fullback spot, O'Kane or MacDonald in midfield, Stanislas or Atsu on the flanks, Kermorgant or Rantie up front. Regardless, they'll line up as a 4-4-1-1/4-4-2, the formation seen in almost every fixture this season.

This is a Bournemouth side that's conceded ten goals in its last two matches: 5-1 losses at Manchester City and against Tottenham. It's tempting to say that it might finally be time for Liverpool to remember where the goal is, to score more than once for just the second time this season.

But we know better. Sure, it's a different Liverpool side and manager, but I can't help remembering the previous round, when Liverpool faced League Two opposition at home, a team which had conceded the most goals in all four English divisions, and proceeded to score just once from 50 or so shots, needing extra time and penalties to advance. And we'll continue to remember that, and all the other 1-1s, until shown different.

This fixture's become habit, the third consecutive season these sides have met in a cup match. Unfortunately for Liverpool, draws have also become habit, as we've loudly lamented over the last few weeks. Thankfully, Liverpool can't draw tomorrow, at least not at the end of the day, although we're still calling Carlisle one of the many 1-1s.

After Sunday, it feels like Liverpool need just one break for the dam to burst. Well, there's no time like the present.


criynwa said...

And don't forget that's Mike "Beach Ball" Jones as the referee!

drew said...

...and Benteke's out. I'm actually not sure who steps in if Origi has to come off for any reason. Maybe Jerome Sinclair finally gets another run around? Starting to wonder if we might have a recall clause on Samed Yesil, who at least is getting a few games in Switzerland until his own knees go again...