Three defeats in four games for Jurgen’s mighty Reds have triggered the expected media frenzy that comes with the best team losing a football match. For now, though, there’s no reason to panic for the supporters. Each of the three losses have come in different circumstances. Atletico was a first leg away at one of the most difficult places to go in Europe, Watford was, admittedly, a shambles and the FA Cup game tie against Chelsea swung based on key moments in the match.
Bournemouth at home provides a good opportunity to get back to winning ways and now the possible invincibles mantle has gone, some of the pressure may have been lifted off the players’ shoulders.
In recent years, fixtures against The Cherries have been a guaranteed source of three points for Liverpool. It’s nearly three years since Bournemouth have managed to breach The Reds’ defence and in the five meetings since then, Liverpool have won by at least three goals on each occasion.
The struggling position of this weekend’s Anfield visitors point to another Liverpool walkover but Eddie Howe’s men have had something of a resurgence lately. Despite winning just one of their last five, the team has been unlucky at times. February started with a 2-1 win against EFL Cup finalists, Aston Villa and a, by no means disgraceful, 2-1 defeat at Bramall Lane to Sheffield United. Next came perhaps the most deceiving scoreline of late, their 3-0 defeat against Burnley. The match was ultimately decided by some debatable VAR decisions which Bournemouth found themselves on the wrong side of. They eventually got a point for their efforts, last week at Stamford Bridge, against a similar Chelsea outfit to the one that beat Liverpool 3-0.
The south coast side’s slight rejuvenation of late could be attributed to their transition from playing 4-4-2 to 4-3-3. Ex-Liverpool youngster, Dominic Solanke, has been dropped to the bench in favour of Josh King, who is returning from a hamstring injury. King is a more dynamic player who can play on the wing in a 4-3-3 system, whereas Solanke prefers to play through the middle. Callum Wilson, though, has claimed that position as The Cherries’ number nine.
In terms of team news, Harry Wilson won’t be able to face his parent club, but the centre-back, Lloyd Kelly could be in contention to return to the matchday set-up.
The major update coming out of Melwood is that Alisson Becker could be out for around a month. Klopp has said: “I don’t want to say no [for the Merseyside derby] but I don’t know if he will be available. He is not available for the next week, not for tomorrow and not the next week.
Then we have to judge the situation new. I would say after the international break he is back 100 per cent, whatever we can get before that we will see.”
This means Adrian should keep his place in goal. Alexander-Arnold will return to the side after being rested for the FA Cup clash against Chelsea. Naby Keita has performed well in the past against Bournemouth, however, it is unclear whether he will play given that his cousin has just been involved in a bus crash. Henderson is still unavailable but is aiming to return in time for the crucial second leg against Atletico Madrid, this Wednesday.
Although three points isn’t crucial for our league title ambitions, The Reds need to get back into a winning habit ahead of the upcoming Champions League tie and, with Bournemouth firmly in a relegation battle for the first real time since their promotion to the Premier League in 2016, it might not prove as easy as the form book suggests.