After a set of tough midweek fixtures, Liverpool and Bournemouth go head to head at the Vitality Stadium, with Jurgen Klopp’s side hoping to keep their run going, while Eddie Howe’s side hoping to arrest their four-game streak of losses.
Bournemouth come into this game having lost to Newcastle (A), Wolves (H), Spurs (A), and Crystal Palace (A) over the last one month. What is perhaps more painful for Howe is that each of those losses were decided by a 1-goal margin. Prior to the start of this slippery run, Bournemouth had gathered 16 points by winning and drawing 4 games, which is why they are at a respectable 12th position in the league table even now, just 3 points away from Arsenal. It was a December afternoon when Howe first tasted victory against Klopp. But that was way back in 2016. This set of Reds are a different proposition.
Liverpool come into Saturday’s game having won the Merseyside derby 5-2 on Wednesday night. Sitting 8 points clear at the top from the second-placed Leicester and a full 11 points ahead of Manchester City seems like a great position. But Klopp will be the first to remember that Liverpool had a similar lead during last December, but they still ended up finishing the season as runners-up. Klopp will want to keep the momentum going and he showed against Everton that he was willing to gamble, when he rung in 5 changes in the side just to keep the momentum up. His side’s attack should not be his concern, given the form that Sadio Mane and Divock Origi are in. However, on the defensive front he might be a bit worried by the lack of clean sheets. Liverpool have not kept one for 13 matches in all competitions. On Saturday though, a win will be the primary goal for the Reds, followed by a clean sheet if possible.
- Bournemouth are winless in their last five Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D1 L4), since beating them 4-3 in December 2016. The Cherries’ defence in particular struggles against the Reds as they have conceded at least twice in each of their last seven against Liverpool.
- Liverpool have won their last four Premier League games against Bournemouth by an aggregate score of 14-0, including two 4-0 wins at the Vitality Stadium. That aggregate score in the last four games means that Liverpool have beaten Bournemouth by a margin of 3+ goals in each of their last four games. They have never won five consecutive top-flight games against an opponent by such margin before.
- Bournemouth have a matching record of their own. They have lost the last four consecutive Premier League matches by a 1-goal margin. They last lost five consecutive league games back in March 2013, in League One.
- Liverpool have won 27 Premier League matches so far in 2019, matching their tally from 2018. They last won more top-flight matches in a single year in 1987 (28 wins). A win on Saturday could get Jurgen’s team on par with that record.
In the absence of Bournemouth’s lead goal scorer Harry Wilson, who is not allowed to play against his parent team, his namesake will have to step up. Callum Wilson scored five goals in four games but since then has gone goalless in last eight Premier League appearances. Although Callum Wilson is prone to such extended goal droughts – this is his third-longest – he does pose a threat to Liverpool’s defence. With an xG90 of 0.33 and a xA90 of 0.11, he has a 44% probability of contributing a goal, assuming he plays for 90 minutes. Eddie Howe will hope that Wilson can contribute a goal or two.
Sadio Mane has been involved in more Premier League goals this season than any other Reds player (9 goals, 4 assists)). Since that fateful defeat at the hands of Cherries in 2013, Sadio Mane has scored in 39 Premier League matches, and never ended up losing (W35 D4). With xG90 of 0.48 and xA90 of 0.29 Sadio Mane is one of the feared forwards in the league, as he has a 77% chance of contributing a goal if he plays all 90 minutes.
For Bournemouth, Adam Smith joined Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Lloyd Kelly, Andrew Surman, David Brooks, Junior Stanislas, and Joshua King on a lengthy injury list. Harry Wilson, who is on loan from Liverpool, is ineligible to play against his parent team. This fact will add to Eddie Howe’s headache as the on-loan starlet is the lead scorer for Cherries in the league.
For Liverpool, Alisson can be back in contention after missing out Wednesday night’s derby against Everton due to the technical Red card he received against Brighton. Fabinho and Joel Matip continue to be unavailable due to injuries. Klopp rotated heavily against Everton and he might rotate a bit on Saturday as well, possibly giving the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Milner starts.
Liverpool in their current form seem unstoppable but are equally prone to concede a goal or two. Their attacking and defensive forms suggest that they should win on Saturday. However, that elusive clean sheet will continue to evade them.
Bournemouth 1 – 2 Liverpool