Two teams who have never been in a better position in terms of points after 25 games in the Premier League go head to head on Saturday evening. Liverpool host Bournemouth in the 26th game week, hoping to regain the top position in the table. Bournemouth have never had more points on the board after 25 games than their 33 points as of now as they have won 10 games, three more than each of their last three seasons in the league. Their hosts are also enjoying unprecedented levels in terms of points. Liverpool have 62 points on the board, which is 12 better than two of their previous best seasons (2013-14 and 2017-18).
That Liverpool are second going into this game despite losing only once points to how good Manchester City are. It also points to the 5 draws that the Reds have played out. Before the games against Leicester and West Ham, Liverpool had only dropped points to fellow top-six competitors this season. But, the last two matches have allowed Manchester City to bridge a 7-point gap, although they have played one game more than the Reds. If Liverpool fail to win on Saturday, that game in hand will have been wasted and City will again be favourites for the title. Having said that the odds are heavily in favour of Liverpool to regain their three-point lead over City as although Bournemouth are having a good season, they do not pose a major threat. More so, as the Cherries have proved themselves to be poor travellers this season.
In their 12 away games so far, Bournemouth have won just three, drawn none and lost 9 – seven of them consecutively. At home Eddie Howe’s team can beat even Chelsea but they have struggled on the road this season. Bournemouth have conceded 13 more goals and scored 10 fewer on the road than they have at home. They come into this game having lost at Everton (2-0) and at Cardiff City (2-0) in their last two away games. Eddie Howe will be hoping that his side can trouble Liverpool early on and then keep them out for the rest of the game.
- This will be the 15th meeting between Liverpool and Bournemouth in all competitions, with the Reds losing only once (W10, D3). Bournemouth’s only previous victory against Liverpool came in the Premier league in December 2016, but at the Vitality Stadium, not at Anfield.
- At home, Liverpool have won five and drawn one of their six matches against Bournemouth in all competitions, keeping three clean sheets in the process. In fact, Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 33 home Premier League games winning 23 and drawing 10. They drew their last home game against Leicester, but they have not failed to win two in a row in three consecutive games in the competition since December 2017.
- Bournemouth have lost each of their last seven away games in the league, conceding at least two goals each time. The last team to lose eight in a row on the road were Crystal Palace (8 in November 2017).
- Despite opening the scoring in their last two Premier League games, Liverpool have ended up drawing them both. They have never scored first and failed to win in three consecutive games in the competition before.
- Due to the reverses suffered in January and February, Liverpool’s points per game for last eight games has decreased to 2.13 from their overall average of 2.48 points per game. Bournemouth too have deteriorated slightly, not as much in PPG, but in goals conceded per game to 2.24 from 1.76.
Roberto Firmino likes to take Bournemouth’s defence on. He has contributed six goals in six league games against the Cherries, scoring three and assisting three goals. Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that the Brazilian can return to goal scoring form after going goal-less in the last two games. If Firmino obliges, he will reach double figures in his league goals scored column. His xGp90 of 0.44 gives him a decent chance of achieving that. His xAp90 of 0.17 also indicates a possibility of Firmino assisting a goal on Saturday.
Josh King is in a rich vein of form. He has scored three goals in his last three appearances in the league – as many as he had in his previous 14 games in the competition. He also has similar number of goals scored (8 vs 9) compared to Firmino and the same number of Premier League assists (3). His xGp90 + xAp90 of 0.51 indicates more than 50% chance of contributing a goal if he plays full 90 minutes. Eddie Howe will be hoping that contribution comes early in the game before Liverpool are able to dominate.
For Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp will hope to have Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georgino Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson fit. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren continue to remain sidelined with injury. Given the performance of the midfield in the recent games, it is possible that Wijnaldum or Milner will replace Adam Lallana in that position, depending on Trent’s availability at right-back.
For Bournemouth, Jefferson Lerma should return to the starting XI alongside either Dan Gosling or Andrew Surman. Dominic Solanke could lead the Cherries attack against his former side as Callum Wilson is sidelined with injury. Lewis Cook, Simon Francis, and David Brooks are also out due to injuries. Nathaniel Clyne is ineligible to play against his parent club, so Charlie Daniels should start at left-back with Adam Smith moving to right-back.
Liverpool cannot afford to drop any more points against the sides from the bottom half. That they do not have a game after this one for another 10 days will also make sure the Reds come hard at Bournemouth. If they indeed do, it should be an easy victory for Liverpool on Saturday.
Liverpool 3 – 0 Bournemouth