Liverpool’s latest clash of their busy Christmas schedule will see them travel to the south coast on Sunday to take on AFC Bournemouth.
Eddie Howe’s side find themselves in 14th place after a mixed start to the season. Their most recent result was a 1-0 loss at Old Trafford, despite having dominated much of the game.
To get an opposing view of this fixture, we spoke to Liam Grace, a freelance sub-editor for Sky Sports and ESPN.
How would you assess Bournemouth’s season so far? Are fans happy with your current position?
Considering how tight the league is this season i’d say it’s been pretty good.
We’re currently 14th and realistically we should be happy with staying up, but there is no reason we can’t kick on and target a top half finish seeing as we finished 9th last season.
We face a tricky run of fixtures against Liverpool and Manchester City in the next two weeks but we have put in some good performances this season.
Callum Wilson and Jermain Defoe have been among the goals, while summer signings Asmir Begovic and Nathan Ake have also impressed in goal and defence respectively.
It seemed like you were unlucky at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. Was that one of your most encouraging performances of this season?
I would say it was up there. We played very well and dominated the games at times, registering seven shots on target to their two. Charlie Daniels came close from 25-yards in the first half while Defoe and Ryan Fraser had late chances. We felt unlucky to come away with nothing.
Our best performance of the season though was the 4-0 demolition of Huddersfield last month, and we have shown we can win on the road this season at Stoke and Newcastle.
What is the feeling amongst fans heading into this one? Liverpool had two games to forget against Bournemouth last season.
We have definitely shown we can compete against the top sides. We only lost by a single goal to Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City this season so there is no reason we can’t go to Anfield and believe we can win.
In previous years we have played well in this fixture, but we realise coming away with three points will be very difficult considering the talent in Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
Earlier this month Liverpool disposed of Brighton 5-1 and thrashed Spartak Moscow 7-0 in the Champions League, so we are braced for a tough game.
Jordon Ibe on Klopp: “He’s a really good manager, one to one. He gives players confidence, he makes you feel very important. Whether you’re a player coming on from the bench or whether you’re a starter. Everyone feels the same. So I give him credit for that." pic.twitter.com/ukexM2L5Gh
— Anfield HQ (@AnfieldHQ) December 16, 2017
How is Jordon Ibe getting on this season? Many saw him as a very big talent whilst he was at Liverpool. From the outside looking in, it looks like it hasn’t quite happened for him yet?
There was a lot of frustration surrounding Jordon Ibe when we signed him for a club record fee of £15 million last season – failing to bag a goal or assist in 25 games – but he has shown glimmers of improvement in 2017-18.
He was fantastic in the win over Brighton in September, coming on as a 65th minute substitute and setting up two goals to help us win 2-1 from 1-0 down at home. That was an important win for us too as it ended a run of four defeats at the start of the season.
Many expect Bournemouth to come out and play against Liverpool, something that suits Klopp’s team more than it would if you sat deep. Do you think Howe will be a bit more reserved with his game plan for this one?
Howe goes into every game looking to win. He said that before Manchester United on Wednesday – where we opted for two strikers in Wilson and Joshua King – and we will play the same way on Sunday.
We have played attacking football against Liverpool in recent seasons and won, most notably in the 4-3 thriller at the Vitality Stadium just over a year ago, so Howe will be reminding his players of that.
How do you expect Bournemouth to set up for this one? Any injury concerns?
We’re missing Tyrone Mings and also without Adam Federici or Brad Smith but none are massive concerns.
I’d love to see Lewis Cook to come back into the starting side, I know a lot of other Bournemouth fans would too, but we have a lot of options in the middle. I have a feeling Howe will opt for Harry Arter again based on his experience. He’ll either be partnered by Andrew Surman or Dan Gosling.
We’ll line up with the usual 4-4-1-1, but we play a very fluid style of football, and when our attacking full-backs get forward it operates more like a 3-5-2.
What have you made of Liverpool this season?
I’ve been very impressed with Liverpool this season. I feel like they’ve juggled the Premier League and the Champions League well, being serious top four contenders in the former and topping their group in the later.
Klopp’s men are only seven points behind second-placed Manchester United and will fancy themselves against Porto in the Champions League last 16.
Arguably there have been some not-so-favourable performances, such as the 4-1 defeat to Tottenham in October and the 5-0 demolition from Manchester City in September, but on the whole Liverpool have played very well.
The Bournemouth player that you think could cause Liverpool the most problems?
Defoe could be the man to watch. He scored a brace away at Crystal Palace last week, and after being dropped to the bench against Manchester United, he could come back into the XI on Sunday.
He has netted three goals in his last three Premier League matches against Liverpool, so will fancy himself to get on the scoresheet again.
The Liverpool player you think Bournemouth must be wary of?
It’s got to be Mohamed Salah. Perhaps the best buy of the summer in English football, he has been immaculate this season with 18 goals and four assists across 23 games in the Premier League and Champions League. He will be a major concern for us.
Your score prediction?
Liverpool 2-1 Bournemouth.
Unfortunately with no wins in our last five league games this game has just come at the wrong time for us.
Liverpool will see this as a golden opportunity to put their last two results against Everton and West Brom behind them, and we will need to be at 110% and hope they don’t turn up on Sunday to pull off a shock result.