Cherries powerless in being popped

Match Report

At Anfield on Wednesday night Liverpool fans left the stadium unsatisfied and frustrated. West Brom had come with a plan for that exact scenario to play out and it had proven to be a successful one. That couldn’t happen again, certainly not against Bournemouth yesterday. Liverpool had to put in a better display and come back from the south coast with all three points. We had to get firing again and it had to be now. Not only had West Brom kept us at bay but we had made it easy for them by putting in a poor performance. Things had to be put right.

Jurgen Klopp made his intentions for that being the case by once again ringing the changes. Simon Mignolet was a notable absence on Wednesday but he reassumed his place in goal yesterday at the expense of Loris Karius. Joe Gomez also started on the bench in midweek and replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold. Gini Wijnaldum came back into midifeld in place of Emre Can, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also came in for James Milner. Jordan Henderson replaced Sadio Mane, which saw Philippe Coutinho moving out onto the left win.

Bournemouth lined up as expected. Asmir Begovic was protected in goal by Charlie Daniels, Nathan Ake, Simon Francis and Adam Smith. Former Red Jordon Ibe started on the right wing while Jermaine Defoe, who has recently hit a bit of form, started with Josh King up front.

The game started as most Liverpool games do, with us in control. Early chances were created and Liverpool saw most of the ball. When Mo Salah won a free kick just outside the area in the tenth minute, Coutinho stepped up to curl it around the wall. However, he could only find the post before watching the ball fly across the face of goal and away from danger. Liverpool smelled blood and began to pile on the pressure. It would pay off on twenty minutes.

Coutinho picked up the ball on the left flank and turned. Bournemouth afforded him space and were now in trouble. Coutinho drove at Francis and cut inside him, before turning Ake inside out. When Ake had his back to Coutinho the Brazilian used him as a shield against Begovic so he could beat the ‘keeper at his near post. It was typical brilliance from Coutinho and showed why he is the man to make a difference against the so called ‘smaller’ sides.

Liverpool wouldn’t relent from there and continued to pummel Bournemouth. The Cherries tried to hold possession in midfield but could not resist the work rate in the Liverpool midfield. Seven minutes after taking the lead Liverpool had a corner. Coutinho swung it towards the near post but it deflected high into the air. It looked like it was dropping out for a goal kick until Roberto Firmino managed to hook it back across goal. Every player in black and red switched off but Dejan Lovren didn’t, and the Croat dove onto the looped ball to head into an empty net before Francis could clear. It was a brave header and a goal which Liverpool thoroughly deserved. Bournemouth were now sinking without a trace.

That being said, their pace looked to unsettle Liverpool going forward. The injury to Josh King put paid to biggest threat Bournemouth had in terms of quickness but Jermaine Defoe was still on the pitch and that always means trouble. Midway through the first half Wijnaldum lost the ball in midfield and Andrew Surman played in Defoe. The veteran striker was clean through with only Mignolet to beat and looked certain to score. However, he uncharacteristically hit the post from close range and the score stayed the same. It would come back to haunt Defoe and Bournemouth.

Liverpool had chances before the end of the half. Oxlade-Chamberlain released a snap shot at goal which Begovic was able to parry and Salah was as dangerous as ever. With a minute to go until the break Salah found himself one on one with Charlie Daniels on the Liverpool right. He squared Daniels up before knocking the ball past him and running onto it. He sprinted towards Begovic’s goal before cutting back on Daniels, dribbling past Ake and sliding to pass the ball into the bottom corner of the net. It was a goal which summed up Salah perfectly –  the pace, the power and the work rate are all attributes we have come to associate with the Egyptian. As for the goal, it would put vital breathing space between ourselves and Bournemouth going in at half time. But we have been here before, haven’t we?

Eddie Howe responded to his side’s suffocation in midfield by adding direct running from Ryan Fraser after the break. The Scottish winger famously foiled Liverpool last season in the narrow 4-3 defeat we suffered at the Vitality Stadium. Howe was obviously hoping he could provide the same impetus into his side today.

Liverpool picked up where they left off in the first half by reassuming control of the game. The introduction of Fraser didn’t seem to be having the desired effect and Liverpool continued to constrict the centre of the park. Bournemouth couldn’t find space and were not quick enough on the ball in order to withstand the Liverpool closing down. We were winning the ball in midfield and exploiting the opposition out wide with effective wing play by Salah and Coutinho, who were backed up by devastating width provided by Robertson and Gomez. The rewards were again being reaped.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was beginning to come into the fore in midfield. At one point he slid in on Surman to win the ball, before bursting towards goal and unleashing a powerful shot at goal which deflected wide via the post. Moments later Philippe Coutinho was again in possession on the left wing. He cut inside and curled a ball towards goal. No one had picked up the run of Firmino though and, with Begovic already diving to his left, the forward stooped to flick the ball past him and put Liverpool 4-0 up. Bournemouth were now surely dead and buried.

With 25 minutes still to play the game became about Liverpool keeping the ball. The opposition had practically given up and Klopp’s boys were now beginning to have some fun. Danny Ings came on and had a late shot drift wide of goal, while Dom Solanke, also on as a sub, had an effort from outside the box saved by Begovic. When the referee blew the whistle, it signalled the end of a game which had been won in devastating fashion.

Coming out of Anfield on Wednesday night there was a palpable sense of disappointment and frustration. West Brom had got what they came for, but Liverpool had made the task easier than it should have been. Nobody will be disappointed following yesterday’s win. Bournemouth, despite their league position, are a good footballing side. Eddie Howe sets his team up well and this could have been a potential banana skin, especially with the defeat here last season being mention a lot in the build-up. However, Liverpool came to the south coast and put in an incredibly professional performance. It was a display of the highest calibre and was devastatingly effective. It begs the question – why can’t you do that every week, Liverpool?