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Last four head-to-head:
3-4 Bournemouth (a) 12.04.16
2-1 Liverpool (a) 04.17.16
1-0 Liverpool (h; League Cup) 10.28.15
1-0 Liverpool (h) 08.17.15
Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-1 Everton (h); 1-1 City (a); 2-1 Burnley (a)
Bournemouth: 0-0 Southampton (a); 2-0 Swansea (h); 3-2 West Ham (h)
Liverpool: Mané 13; Firmino 9; Coutinho, Lallana, Milner 7; Origi, Wijnaldum 5; Can 4; Lovren, Sturridge 2; Henderson, Matip 1
Bournemouth: King 11; Wilson 6; Afobe, Stanislas 4; Ake, Daniels, Fraser 3; S Cook, Gosling 2; Arter, Pugh, A Smith 1
Referee: Lee Mason
Lee Mason's two Liverpool games this season: 0-2 Burnley, 0-2 Hull. Joy.
Guess at a line-up:
Clyne Matip Lovren Milner
Wijnaldum Can Coutinho
Trent A-A Firmino Origi
It's not getting any easier. It rarely does.
Add Sadio Mané to the casualty list still containing Henderson, Lallana, and Sturridge – although the latter's at least back in team training. And I suspect you're aware that Liverpool's record without Sadio Mané is not good. You may still be surprised that it's 1W-2D-5L not good.
It is April 2017 and Liverpool are in a fevered fight for Top 4 and I'm writing "the line-up's a lot easier to predict if Lucas is available to start in midfield." Which is both unexpected and confusing on so many levels. But my concerns about Lucas are two-fold. First, his ability to play two matches in four days, three in eight if he's needed on the weekend as well, and West Brom seems more necessary considering the aerial bombardment than Bournemouth. Second, how important he'd actually be, in defense but more when transitioning forward, given that Liverpool will need to be more creative through the middle in Mané's absence.
Chances are, it'll be a front six of Lucas, Wijnaldum, Can; Coutinho, Firmino, Origi, future consequences be damned, but, screw it, let's go wild. Drop Coutinho into midfield, shift Can back to the holding position, and bring in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Woodburn, or Wilson in attack. Saturday's Merseyside Derby seemed evidence that Alexander-Arnold's equipped to play further forward, even if the game was incredibly stretched at that point, and is more capable of playing on the right than Woodburn and more experienced, if only marginally so, than Wilson.
But it's probably gonna be Lucas as the holder and Coutinho in attack and Firmino and Origi switching from inside to out and back and Liverpool will have to try to conjure some decent attacks without a player who's utterly crucial to said attacks.
Meanwhile, hey, it's Bournemouth. You remember Bournemouth.
That's still probably the most traumatizing match this season, although we're somewhat spoilt for choices. From 2-0 and 3-1 to 3-4 in less than a half. There were still a couple of matches to go before the rot truly set in, but that early December fixture presaged Liverpool's 2017 downturn.
Bournemouth currently sit 11th, smack in the middle of a pack from 9th to 14th separated by just three points. And Bournemouth, like Liverpool, are unbeaten in their last four matches with draws against United and and Southampton and wins over Swansea and West Ham.
Surman, Wilson, and Federici are out injured, while Mings is still suspended. Which makes tomorrow's XI likely to be the XI they've usually deployed lately. Boruc; A Smith, Cook, Francis, Daniels; Pugh, Gosling, Arter, Fraser; Afobe, King. Maybe Wilshere returns to the XI, maybe Bournemouth play a more compact 4-2-3-1 rather than the usual 4-4-2. Maybe there are even more changes after a difficult South Coast derby on Saturday and then with Chelsea coming next Saturday. I am also under the impression that both Jordon Ibe and Brad Smith still play for Bournemouth, but recent line-ups haven't borne that out.
Regardless, Liverpool are more than aware what Bournemouth are capable of. There's something to be said about direct, fast attacking and a never-give-up attitude.
There are eight matches left in the season, and this begins the run of "winnable" games that seem less winnable when you remember what Liverpool have done in similar. First, Bournemouth. Then a trip to Stoke, never an easy place to play. Then West Brom and Tony Pulis. Then a revitalized Crystal Palace. Etc, etc, etc.
But first Bournemouth. And revenge.