Talking Points: Bournemouth 0 Liverpool 4

A Mohamed Salah hat-trick inspired Liverpool to an impressive away win at Bournemouth on Saturday. A Steve Cook own-goal also helped as the Reds move top of the Premier League for at least a few hours. 

Liverpool continue to pass tough examinations…

It seems as though every game recently has been a tough test, made even tougher by the lack of recovery time, but Jürgen Klopp’s players are continuing to deal with everything that is thrown at them in the league. An Everton side playing their best football in years, a midweek trip to Burnley desperate for points and a visit to a Bournemouth side that are sixth in the table and have only lost twice at home all season – all tricky fixtures, but all have yielded three points for the Reds. Liverpool started the game against the Cherries well, though struggled to create meaningful chances. Their patience paid off though when Salah scored his first, and with the Egyptian making the perfect start to the second-half, the hosts soon has no answers to their opponent’s superior ability. Come the last few moments Liverpool were knocking the ball around with swagger and look just like a side challenging for the title. The phrase of ‘that is a game Liverpool wouldn’t have won last season’ has been used a lot recently, but the Reds continue to pass all variety of tests.

 Doubters silenced by Salah at his best…

But Salah is a one-season wonder? Well, think again, because the Egyptian ended the match as the league’s joint-top scorer and with the joint-top goal contributions. Even Salah’s first goal – a tap-in after Asmir Begovic rumbled –  highlighted his striking instincts, and Salah’s third goal was just pure class. Bournemouth couldn’t live with his speed, movement and strength, and a hat-trick – albeit with an offside goal – was the least Salah deserved. Although many fans want to see Salah return to the right-wing, credit must be given as Salah delivered his best performance of the season playing as a central striker. It seems as Klopp will persist with this, so the other attackers in the side will just have to get used to Salah’s preferences and types and directions of runs in behind. If Liverpool are to win silverware this season, Salah will have to play an integral part, and prove exactly why he is one of the best players in the division.

Firmino starting to rediscover some form…

One of the main reasons behind the Reds’ attacking troubles this campaign has been the drop in form of Roberto Firmino, with the Brazilian struggling to impact games in a deeper role and provide the goals and assists that he did so frequently last season. However, with two goals and three assists in his last four league matches, it seems as if Firmino is starting to return to his best. In the first half especially, his link-up play with Salah was crucial to the Reds’ attacks – the first goal resulting from exactly that. After the break it was Firmino who set-up Salah once again as Liverpool doubled their lead, and it is no surprise or coincidence that a much-improved Firmino performance saw one of Liverpool’s and Salah’s best attacking displays of the season.

Fabinho and Keita now undroppable…

Most supporters were delighted as the news broke that they would get to see a midfield three of Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keita against Eddie Howe’s side, and their happiness was justified as the trio worked tirelessly to provide Liverpool the platform they needed to win the game so convincingly. Keita set the tone for his silky performance when he nutmegged two Bournemouth players in quick succession, and the speed he provides with his running and passing is vital. Fabinho was probably Liverpool’s second best player in the game, and is proving exactly why some fans needed to be patient and let the Brazilian settle into English football. The defensive protection Fabinho adds to an already solid back-line is clear to see, and his progressive and incisive passing from a deeper position sees him act as a deep-lying playmaker as a well as a defensive midfielder at times. Fabinho and Keita were brought to add some much-needed quality to the Reds’ midfield, and with the level they are currently operating at, the pair are undroppable.

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