PREVIEW | Liverpool v AFC Bournemouth (Premier League)

Pádraig O’Callaghan brings recent form, team news and predictions as the Reds look to put an end to their recent shaky spell with a convincing win over Premier League strugglers Bournemouth.

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Liverpool welcome Bournemouth to Anfield as they look to end their poor run of form which has seen them win just one out of their last four games. Hopes of a treble were dashed last time out as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea in the FA Cup.

For the third time in four matches the Reds’ failed to find the back of the net, while they still showed defensive fragilities which ultimately cost them the game.

Bournemouth’s previous match saw them face Liverpool’s FA Cup opponents last Saturday — the game finished 2-2, but the Cherries remain in the relegation zone. They had the better chances but, like many times this season, their finishing cost them a win.

Recent form

Liverpool’s poor run continued against Chelsea as they fell to their third loss in four games. Klopp named a weakened side which contained a handful of first team players. Sadio Mané had a chance to give the Reds an early lead but shot straight at Kepa when in a good position.

Willian gave Chelsea the lead after 13 minutes. His powerful effort was spilled into the net by Adrián who had just denied the Brazilian with a fine save just moments earlier. Liverpool came close to equalising minutes later, but they were denied by the Chelsea goalkeeper who made three saves in quick succession which gave the home side a half-time lead.


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Liverpool started the second half strongly as they tried to get back into the game, despite their dominance they never created a telling opportunity. Mount struck the woodwork with a free-kick, though Adrián looked to have it covered. Ross Barkley doubled Chelsea’s lead after the Reds lost the ball in midfield leaving them short at the back.

Adrián made amend and stop the score line becoming embarrassing has he saved from Pedro and Olivier Giroud who had good opportunities to further extend Chelsea’s lead. Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were subbed on, but it proved too little, too late as the Reds dropped out of the FA Cup.

Bournemouth past few results have seen them slip into the relegation zone, a lack of a proven goal scorer has cost them valuable points as the championship looms large. Due to their style of play the Cherries will always be open at the back which should play into Liverpool’s hands.

Against Chelsea they played well, created a couple of good chances which should have won them their game, once again however their open shape allowed Chelsea in countless time, the away side had 21 shots on goal, which were going to turn into goals eventually.

Marcos Alonso had his early strike cancelled out by Jefferson Lerma before Josh King gave Bournemouth the lead three minutes later. They then went on to create many chances to score a third with all of them coming from within the six-yard box.

They were made to rue their missed chances as Alonso scored his second of the game after Pedro’s effort was spilled into the path of the Spaniard. Neither team created any more goalscoring opportunities as both teams earned a point for their efforts.

Team news

Naby Keïta returned to training on Wednesday, but after the death of his cousin on Friday it remains to be seen if he is available.

Klopp has a near full squad to choose from — Jordan Henderson is still out but is in contention to make the Atlético Madrid game.

Fabinho has struggled as of late so a switch to a two-man midfield may help the Brazilian get back to his best, while also adding an extra player in attack. Wijnaldum would be the obvious partner to Fabinho though Keïta does have a case, as the duo always seem to play well when in a deep pivot.

The Guinean is also able to play wide left of a more advanced three in the same formation, though a player like the Oxlade-Chamberlain would allow the formation to switch between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-4-2.

With Keïta possibly absent due to family bereavement, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks set to get the nod in midfield.

Eddie Howe has no fresh injury concerns. David Brooks, Lloyd Kelly and Charlie Daniels are still out while Harry Wilson is ineligible due to being on loan from the Reds.

The Liverpool player was on the bench against Chelsea so the Bournemouth starting eleven shouldn’t be too much different to the one that started last week.

One change that they probably will make is switching to a back five with a four-man midfield.

Aaron Ramsdale will keep his place in goal — the young Irishman has impressed throughout the campaign but is also susceptible to an error, which has cost his teams a few times this season.

Simon Francis, Jack Stacey, Nathan Ake, Steve Cook and Adam Smith could form a back five. Teams have recently started marking the space out wide to limit the space for out full-backs to venture into, so Bournemouth will try and do the same.

A flat midfield four, possibly made up of Phil Billing, Jefferson Lerma, Lewis Cook and Ryan Fraser will sit very deep in front of their defence and try to limit the holes which Firmino can exploit.

Callum Wilson will have quite a lonely day up front. The forward has a bit of pace about him but its unlikely to trouble Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

Prediction

Liverpool have to win this game — they have played poor recently but with an important week ahead it vital we return to winning ways. A win would see the Reds’ only need nine points from their remaining nine games and will also give them momentum into the Champions League game.

Bournemouth shouldn’t pose a threat and I fancy Liverpool to win quite comfortably. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will fight in this game to feature against Atlético if Henderson isn’t passed fit.

The front three have three goals in their last 21 combined starts and should start looking to get back on the score sheet.

Predicted final score: Liverpool 5-0 Bournemouth

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