There probably isn’t such a thing as a good time to play Liverpool. However, Eddie Howe will bring his Bournemouth side to the banks of the Mersey with the knowledge that the Reds have lost three of their last four games in all competitions, and face a huge game on Wednesday against Atletico Madrid. Add to this the fact that Liverpool do look a side genuinely reduced without captain Jordan Henderson, and it’s not a wild assumption to see the Cherries getting something here.
With that said, they are still – when all is said and done – Bournemouth. Sitting 18th in the league, the South Coast side are in greater danger of the drop than at any other time since they arrived in the Premier League five seasons ago. A 2-2 draw with Chelsea was a much more positive result than it might have been, but Howe will be cursing the dropping of a couple of points to a late Marcos Alonso equaliser. Liverpool, for their part, lost at Chelsea on Wednesday night. It was an FA Cup game, and less painful for that, but a few more wobbles could start to really hurt Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Liverpool vs Bournemouth Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Bournemouth
There’s a conundrum facing Klopp for this outing. With Atletico and a first-leg deficit of 1-0 hanging over the Reds, they need to be well-tuned for Wednesday, and already can’t count on having Henderson or Naby Keita available in midfield. It might be prudent to rest one or more strikers – and given the standard of the opposition, might not hurt Liverpool to do so. In the end the fact that this game is at Anfield, allied to a natural advantage, should see them through – but there’s a chance it won’t be as straightforward as people imagine.
Our recommended tip: Draw at H/T
Liverpool have been slow starters in recent games – the three defeats have all come when opponents were able to grab the initiative from an uncertain Liverpool. Even against West Ham, in the one game they’ve won from this run, some late heroics were necessary to get the points in the bag. It would not, therefore, be the greatest of surprises to see the Anfield side make heavy weather of this assignment, and you can get 37/20 on the first half ending in stalemate. Those odds are available from Betsson, and are tempting enough.
In the last five meetings these sides have had, Liverpool have won them all, scoring seventeen goals in the process and conceding none. Across those games, the lowest total Liverpool have scored in any single game was three. Last time out, in December, the Reds led 2-0 at half time through goals from Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita. The latter then turned provider for Mo Salah to add a third goal early in the second half. Without ever really leaving first gear, Liverpool strolled to victory in what has become a twice-a-season tradition of eviscerating Bournemouth.
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Players to watch: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain & Ryan Fraser
Liverpool’s recovery from poor recent form will depend a great deal on how soon the team can get Henderson back in the line-up or, failing that, replace the energy of his performances. In that respect, the versatile AOC is a more than solid option, with the ability to get around the pitch, join the attack at the right time and chip in with the occasional goal – much as he did earlier in the season.
Fraser has been a key contributor for Bournemouth in recent years, but has fallen out of favour this campaign as loanee Harry Wilson has tended to be preferred in his berth on the right wing. Wilson is, however, contracted to Liverpool and therefore not available to Howe this weekend, which means a likely return for the diminutive Fraser. An exceptional dribbler with the knack of creating chances, this would be a great time for him to remind the boss of how indispensable he has been in recent seasons.