Liverpool travel to Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon, hoping to overcome a run of two disappointing home draws. The last two single point returns, take Liverpool to seven draws on the season, putting them second only to Wednesday’s opponents, West Brom. Even more demoralising, it has seen them drop out of the top four to fifth position, with only goal difference and one spot separating them from this year’s surprise package, Burnley. Bournemouth are without a win in five league games, leaving them in 14th position, but only two points above the drop zone. However, they will take confidence from last season’s emphatic 4-3 win over the Red’s at Dean Court.
Liverpool Team News
Simon Mignolet was rested against West Brom due to a very minor swollen ankle. Jurgen Klopp said he was fit enough to play, but it was not worth the risk, especially with such a competent backup. Loris Karius had a solid game and made a couple of decent saves, but all in all he wasn’t overly busy. Nonetheless he will be very happy with maintaining a clean sheet, but we’d expect normal service to be resumed on Sunday.
Joel Matip is still out with his injury, so we’d expect Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan to start as the centre-back pairing. However, should either of them be feeling the effects of the current fixture congestion, Joe Gomez could move into the centre for an outing. Furthermore, Emre Can has proved himself as a handy defender, and competent enough to look after the back line if necessary. Alberto Moreno is still side-lined, so Scotsman Andrew Robertson will make his third league start in a row.
Adam Lallana remains fully fit, but having missed almost the entirety of the season so far, he will still be limited to just minor appearances off the bench. Skipper, Jordan Henderson was rested last time out and will return to regain the armband from Philippe Coutinho, who will also start. Can and Georginio Wijnaldum will battle it out for the remaining spot, with James Milner acting as cover on the bench for any injuries in the midfield, or at left back.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could potentially start in the front three for the second time in three matches, if Klopp has one eye on the Arsenal clash next Friday. I’d expect top scorer, Mohamed Salah to sit this one out, considering the amount of league action he has seen in recent weeks. Klopp has not been one to err on the side of caution with leaving key players out and the Egyptian could well see the bench this weekend. Sadio Mane will play out on the wing and Roberto Firmino will start as the main striker, with Daniel Sturridge still nursing a slight niggle.
Predicted Line Up: Mignolet; Robertson, Lovren, Klavan, Gomez; Coutinho, Can, Henderson; Mane, Firmino, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Bournemouth Team News
Bournemouth put in a gutsy performance at Old Trafford, falling to a single goal from Romelu Lukaku. However, with a number of players, including Harry Arter, needing treatment on Wednesday night, Eddie Howe may be forced into making changes for Sunday.
Although unlikely to be selected anyway, Brad Smith will not play against his former club due to an ongoing injury that has seen him make just two league cup appearances in the 2017/18 season. Adam Federici and Tyrone Mings will also have to sit this one out, but the Cherries have ample cover.
Jermain Defoe will be pushing for a starting position once again and could be one of the biggest threats as he looks to add to his tally of just three goals this season. Liverpool will also have to be wary another former player, Jordan Ibe, whose pace and trickery will keep Robertson entertained all afternoon. Nathan Ake, who scored the fourth and final goal last season, will be relishing the opportunity to get one over on Liverpool, once again.
Predicted Line Up: Begovic; Daniels, Ake, Francis, Adam Smith; Pugh, Surman, Lewis Cook, Ibe; King, Defoe
• Bournemouth haven’t won in their last five league matches.
• Liverpool have won their last three league matches, scoring at least three goals in each of them.
• There have been 14 goals in the last three league meeting between these two sides.
Liverpool will be out to prove a point after taking just two points from a possible six in the last week. Although Bournemouth aren’t used to winning, they will put up a tough fight in a fixture that always seems to promise goals. In the end, I think Liverpool should just about have enough to see off their hosts and I’ve predicted an exciting, but nerving 3-2 victory for the Reds.