13 April 2018

Liverpool v Bournemouth 04.14.18

12:30pm ET, live in the US on NBC

Last four head-to-head:
4-0 Liverpool (a) 12.17.17
2-2 (h) 04.05.17
3-4 Bournemouth (a) 12.04.16
2-1 Liverpool (a) 04.17.16

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-1 City (a); 0-0 Everton (a); 3-0 City (h)
Bournemouth: 2-2 Palace (h); 2-2 Watford (a); 2-1 West Brom (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Salah 29; Firmino 14; Mané 9; Coutinho 7; Can, Oxlade-Chamberlain 3; Sturridge 2; Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Klavan, Lovren, Matip, Wijnaldum 1
Bournemouth: Wilson 7; King 6; Stanislas 5; Defoe 4; Ake, S Cook, Gosling, Ibe, Mousset, Surman 2; Arter, Daniels, A Smith 1

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (WhoScored)

This will be the first time that Kavanagh has refereed a Liverpool match.

Guess at a line-up:
Karius
Trent A-A Lovren van Dijk Robertson
Alex O-C Henderson Wijnaldum
Salah Firmino Mané

Normally, I'd start off by asking whether Liverpool would rest players after Tuesday's exertions. That City tie was draining, and the majority involved played three games in six days: two incredibly difficult, one a derby that almost wasn't even a derby. And after this, there's a week before the next match, at bottom-of-the-table manager-less West Brom before we get the Champions League semi-finals.

Ha. As if Liverpool have enough healthy bodies to rest players.

The injury list remains extensive and not really getting better. Can, Lallana, Gomez, and Matip are long-term, although the first three *might* be back before the end of the season. And now both Clyne and Klavan are probably out with minor issues picked up in training.

So, once again, it's a case of who's available and go with that.

Henderson will come back into the side, meaning one from Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Wijnaldum get a match off. Maybe one of the front three is left on the bench for either Solanke or Ings; Salah's the most likely after a groin injury in the first leg against City but he's still Mo Salah and I love him and I want him on the pitch at all times. Maaaaaaaaaybe Moreno comes in for Robertson. But that's it. This is the Liverpool we've got but at least the Liverpool we've got is pretty dang good.

Meanwhile, Bournemouth. Look, I've got a lot of time for Eddie Howe. Sure, Bournemouth have had a very mid-table season. Bad for a while, better since the turn of the new year, concrete near the top of the "everyone else after the top six." 38 points, 11th place, ten points and goal difference outside the relegation zone.

But Bournemouth, unlike your Evertons, want to play football. Bournemouth don't want to box clever, Bournemouth want to box. They've scored more goals than all but nine other teams in the division, but they've conceded more goals than all but four. Bournemouth can be fun, and there isn't enough fun in "everyone else after the top six" part of the league.

Bournemouth have scored in 15 consecutive league games. That's more than Liverpool. And that could well be a problem, despite the defensive improvement we've been lauding lately. But Bournemouth have also kept a clean sheet in just one of those games. And it wasn't the game you'd expect: a 3-0 win at Chelsea at the end of January. It doesn't happen often, but maybe just maybe they both can box and box clever in these types of matches.

And Bournemouth boxing has gone well in previous games against Liverpool. Last season's two meetings were two of the most painful, especially the 4-3 at Bournemouth, coming back from two goals down in the final 30 minutes with an injury time winner, but don't sleep on the 2-2 at Anfield. A late-season Liverpool line-up. Liverpool conceding early from an error. A struggle. Two goals bracketing halftime to take the lead, but then pressure, but then a stomach punch, but then a late equalizer.

But then there was this season's meeting. It's a lot harder to box with this season's Liverpool. Bournemouth tried to go toe-to-toe with Liverpool. High-line defense, play out from the back, attack open spaces. Get at those Liverpool defenders who made so many mistakes when these sides met last season. And it went very, very, very badly for them.

Bournemouth will probably play the same 4-4-1-1 we saw in the last meeting, that we usually see from Bournemouth. My best guess is Begovic; Francis, S Cook, Ake, Daniels; Fraser, L Cook, Gosling, Pugh; King, Wilson. But Defoe could start up front, Mousset on the flanks, Surman in midfield. Stanislas and Adam Smith are out injured, while Ibe's questionable after illness and Mings has just returned to training after missing almost the entire season.

The mantra for tomorrow is simple. Don't be a let-down. Liverpool have two league games before AS Roma and a Champions League semi-final becomes a thing. Liverpool are coming off a huge win at Manchester City, a huge step in the progression of this club in progression to the last four left in Europe.

But there's still the league. There's still a surmountable gap between Liverpool in the CL spots for next season and Liverpool not. There are still five games to play and potentially nine points needed.

These are three of them. And they're on offer at Anfield, where Liverpool have yet to lose this season. And Bournemouth owe us points. So go get them.