Having finally ended their recent run of defeats with victory over Huddersfield, Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth come up against a Liverpool side whose title credentials have been questioned in the wake of several sub-par performances. Nonetheless, the visitors come into this game still unbeaten in the Premiership, and remain a mere two points behind Manchester City – so if this is Liverpool in a lull, it’ll be bad news for everyone else when they pull themselves together.
Bournemouth were two goals to the good within 22 minutes against Huddersfield on Tuesday. A final score of 2-1 indicates that there is room for improvement when it comes to killing games off, and one fears for Bournemouth if the game is in the balance entering its final quarter. Liverpool won the recent Merseyside derby with a goal in time added on, and scored three times in the last half-hour against Burnley to turn a 1-0 deficit into a comfortable-looking win.
AFC Bournemouth vs Liverpool Prediction: AFC Bournemouth 1-2 Liverpool
The Cherries have lost four of their last five, but there are arguments to say they have been seriously unlucky in most, if not all, of those matches. Against Manchester City with the score poised at 2-1 to the champions, Bournemouth were denied what looked like a cast-iron penalty, while late goals have hurt them in other games. The truth is, while five defeats in six would look like relegation form, Liverpool are yet another high-level opponent in a tough run of fixtures for the South Coast side. Even though we expect them to lose here, they won’t get blown away and they’ll bounce back soon.
Our recommended tip: Draw HT, Liverpool FT
The Reds have toiled more than they would like in recent games, and in Europe they’ve been exposed too often for comfort. Domestically, though, any side would be happy to play as unimpressively as they have done and pick up 20 points from eight games which have included battles with Manchester City and Arsenal. The major characteristic of this recent run is that it’s taken a little while for Liverpool’s attack to get going; but it nonetheless gets there, and has picked up key late goals. Unibet have 4/1 (5.00) odds on them being held at half time but getting the three points, and that seems worth a punt.
Usually, matches between these sides are close, exciting to watch and hard to predict, with results since Bournemouth’s 2015 promotion including a 4-3 win for the Cherries, a 2-2 draw and a 2-1 win for Liverpool. Last season, however, the head-to-head between these teams was decidedly one-sided. At the Vitality Stadium in December 2017, two goals in each half gave Jurgen Klopp’s side a 4-0 win. Later on in the season, Bournemouth visited Anfield and gave a decent account of themselves but two goals in the last 20 minutes meant they still lost 3-0.
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Players to watch: Ryan Fraser & Virgil van Dijk
As Bournemouth rebounded from their recent struggles to defeat Huddersfield, they owed a lot of thanks to Scottish internationalist Fraser. His cross was perfectly-placed for strike Callum Wilson to score the opening goal, and he was then in the right spot to finish off Wilson’s pass for a decisive second. The winger has always had potential, but his part in Bournemouth’s excellent start to the season has shown that we can stop talking about potential and start calling him a fantastic player.
Van Dijk’s partnership with Joe Gomez has been at the core of Liverpool’s vastly-improved defensive performances this season, but the England international was carried off after 23 minutes against Burnley and may face a long spell on the sidelines. This may see van Dijk paired with Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip for this weekend’s game, and the former Celtic man will need to be all the more composed than usual in the absence of his usual centre-back partner; few will doubt that he can take this in his stride.