14 April 2018

Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth

Goals:
Mané 7'
Salah 69'
Firmino 90'

Yawn.

I mean, not really. This Liverpool side remains insanely fun to watch. They're good at the football. They force a side who likes to play football to constantly sit with 10 players behind the ball because otherwise they know Liverpool will probably run riot over them.

But Liverpool took the lead within seven minutes – Bournemouth can't get out after a Liverpool corner, Henderson cross, Mané saved but Mané unstoppable – and Liverpool never ever ever looked remotely like relinquishing it. It wasn't full throttle – and at this stage of the season, after the week Liverpool have had, you wouldn't expect it to be – but it was absolutely comprehensive.

The only way this could have been more comfortable was if Liverpool could have gotten the game-killing second goal earlier. No matter how good the football has been, there's always a lingering concern at 1-0 that if one crazy or bad thing happens, all the good's thrown away. That concerned voice in the back of your head has been a lot quieter lately, though.

And Liverpool probably should have gotten the second goal sooner. And all I can really blame is Mo Salah trying too hard to get his 40th of the season, his 30th of the Premier League campaign. Pushing a shot wide before Mané's opener, a few tame or wild shots from distance with teammates in better positions, unable to control when open in the box after Mané's lovely scooped pass. It feels like the first time Salah had forced things this season.

But otherwise, the first half was Henderson flying around, Firmino pressing like a madman, Oxlade-Chamberlain trying to break lines, fullbacks bombing forward, Wijnaldum and the central defenders recycling. The ball permanent in Bournemouth's half, the ball permanently with Liverpool. Lather, rinse, repeat, but no more goals.

The tempo unsurprisingly dropped in the second half, with Liverpool still in control but more patient, less potent. A few more shots from distance, a few more direct long balls over the top. But then Mo Salah. The irrepressible. Alexander-Arnold's early cross to the only spot that's leading to a chance, and Mo Salah's acrobatic, back-to-goal header looping over Begovic. It'd be unbelievable if it wasn't Mo Salah, and it's now one of my favorite degree-of-difficulty headers that I can remember, after Suarez from outside the box against West Brom and Luis Garcia doing similar against Anderlecht.

It's Mo Salah. Surprisingly frustrating for 68 minutes, then utterly unconscious in one brilliant moment to remind us that, yes, it's Mo Salah and you should be very afraid. Always.

And we're all but done here.

This is the problem with holding on at 0-1 down, hoping Liverpool are going to make a mistake and you can sneak a draw. "Just keep it close, lads, who knows what can happen." Because it rarely remains one goal with this Liverpool.

Bournemouth took just one shot for the first 81 minutes of the match. Jordon Ibe, right after Mané's opener, from about 30 yards out and about that far from troubling Karius. 74 minutes without, the majority of it when you're only losing by one goal. It's probably not the best way to approach a match with Liverpool. Unfortunately for the opposition, there's seemingly no good way to approach a match with Liverpool these days.

Liverpool scrambled at the end to keep the clean sheet; Lovren picked up a knock, soon to be replaced by Klavan, and Liverpool got too deep, saved by Mousset unable to put a cross on goal then saved by Karius on Gosling's clear-cut chance rebound. But then Firmino gets the third when fed by Oxlade-Chamberlain on the break, and it's 3-0 again. The 23rd time this season that Liverpool have scored three or more goals and the 14th time Liverpool have scored three or more with the opposition scoring none. The seventh time that Mané, Firmino, and Salah have all scored in the same match.

Yawn.

This front three is too good, and when you can combine that with the midfield doing what they did and the defense defending like they did, it's a problem.

Welcome to trying to play against Liverpool, especially at Anfield, for the vast majority of the Premier League. You can play your football at home and get beaten 4-0 or try to shut up shop and congest the final third and get beaten 3-0. Your choice.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

One must wonder what could have been without the summer shambles with Van Dijk...