Bournemouth host Liverpool at the Vitality Stadium at lunchtime on Saturday. The Cherries sit bottom of the table with by far the league’s worst defensive record. They face a Reds side with five clean sheets in a row. The reverse fixture finished 9-0 in August and Liverpool’s last seven vs Bournemouth have seen them net 28 goals.
Gary O’Neil’s side are in dire form and have dropped to 20th in the table, with 51 goals leaked, at least 10 more than anyone else. They’ve lost 11 of their last 15 Premier League matches. They resumed after the World Cup with four defeats to nil before a 1-1 home draw with Nottingham Forest.
A 1-0 loss at Brighton came next, before a hard-fought 1-1 draw against high-flying Newcastle and a shock 1-0 win at a complacent Wolves side. Their last two fixtures saw a 4-1 home loss to Man City and a 3-2 defeat at Arsenal. They led 2-0 at the Emirates and conceded a 98th-minute goal to lose the match. They had just 20% of the ball and allowed 31 shots.
Bournemouth Team News
AFC Bournemouth have a few injuries to deal with. Lloyd Kelly should be fit to return in the back three after a calf problem. Marcus Tavernier is another who is close to returning and he could make the bench here, as could Junior Stanislas.
Jefferson Lerma missed the Arsenal defeat and remains a doubt and the same applies to Hamad Traore, a January signing from Sassuolo. Matias Vina is a doubt at left-back due to a knee injury.
The Cherries had 20% of the ball against Arsenal last week and sat deep, throwing their bodies at shots. The same approach is expected, even at home to Liverpool.
A draw would feel like a win and Bournemouth are expected to play for one from the first whistle.
Jurgen Klopp’s team may finally be returning to their old levels. A run of four losses in seven matches saw three goals leaked in league defeats at Brentford, Brighton, and Wolves and also an FA Cup exit to the Seagulls. Things have seriously improved in the league since then, keeping five clean sheets in a row. A convincing 2-0 home win against Everton (1.97 xG differential) preceded a 2-0 win at Newcastle.
Liverpool then led 2-0 at home to Real Madrid before leaking five goals in 47 minutes. That is now looking like an anomaly as they’ve not conceded in three matches since. Their last two saw a 2-0 home win against Wolves (with two goals in the last 20 minutes) and a 7-0 home destruction of Manchester United. The Reds scored seven times from eight shots on target.
Liverpool Team News
Klopp has four injuries to deal with which affect his options and team selection. Luis Diaz remains out long-term and Thiago Alcantara continues to struggle with a groin problem which rules him out here.
Joe Gomez and Naby Keita are two others who are absent. Liverpool are set to name an unchanged team from the 7-0 win last weekend, meaning bench roles for Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino. Ibrahima Konate will form a very strong partnership with Virgil Van Dijk at the back.
Liverpool are just three points off the top four with a game in hand over Spurs. They will see this as a non-negotiable three points in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
They travel to Real Madrid in midweek but their hopes in that tie are remote. That match is therefore less of a distraction than it normally would be.
Bournemouth have conceded 51 goals in the EPL (next most: 41)
Bournemouth have lost 11 of their last 15 league matches
Liverpool have kept 5 EPL clean sheets in a row
Liverpool have won their last 7 matches vs Bournemouth (28-1 aggregate)
LFC have won once in 5 away Premier League matches (LLLWD)
The Reds should win this match based on the form of the two sides. They have a great record against the Cherries and backing them on the handicap looks like the best move.