MX23RW : Saturday, June 19 17:41:45| >> :120:13794:13794:
Mar 7, 2020 at 12.30pm UK at Anfield
Attendance: 53,323
Liverpool
2-1
Bournemouth
Salah (25'), Mane (33')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Wilson (9')

Preview: Liverpool vs. Bournemouth - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between stuttering leaders Liverpool and relegation-threatened Bournemouth, including predictions and team news.

Liverpool will be looking to return to winning ways after an uncharacteristically poor spell of form when they welcome relegation-threatened Bournemouth to Anfield on Saturday lunchtime.

Jurgen Klopp's side have lost three of their last four games across all competitions but are firm favourites to get their campaign back on track against a Bournemouth side who sit inside the bottom three with 10 games of the season remaining.


Match preview

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on February 29, 2020© Reuters

After a season of winning week after week and breaking records left, right and centre, Liverpool have finally suffered a slump in form since returning from the winter break.

Debate as to whether Klopp's side deserve to be regarded as among the best teams in English football history has been put on hold following a week in which they have seen their hopes of matching Arsenal's Invincibles and Manchester United's treble-winners ended.

Tuesday night's 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Stamford Bridge means that there are just two trophies left for Liverpool to fight for this season, and it may be difficult for the players to avoid having one eye on the must-win Champions League return leg against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.

While their defence of the European crown remains up in the air, it still seems like only a matter of time before they regain their place as the champions of England, 30 years after lifting their 18th and most recent title.

Last weekend's shock 3-0 defeat to Watford - a result which statistically ranks among the biggest upsets in Premier League history - was undoubtedly a setback, but one which is unlikely to have a telling impact on the end result of the campaign with Liverpool still needing just 12 more points to guarantee the title.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their third goal with Jordan Henderson and teammates on February 1, 2020© Reuters

The loss does mean that they may not be able to wrap things up as early as they might have hoped, but if the top two continue to win from now on then it means that Liverpool would have the chance to clinch the title at the home of the current champions Manchester City on April 5.

Regardless of the seemingly inevitable destination of the Premier League trophy, the recent defeats have thrown up issues which need correcting for Liverpool, most notably a sudden vulnerability in defence which has seen Klopp's side concede seven goals in their last three outings. Discounting the EFL Cup tie against Aston Villa when the Under-23 side played, that is as many goals as Liverpool had shipped in their previous 20 matches before then.

It is the first time since August 2016 that Liverpool have conceded two or more goals in three consecutive games, and almost all of them have been down to individual defensive errors.

There is also a concern at the other end considering the three recent defeats have all seen Liverpool fail to score; the Chelsea match was different as they created plenty of chances, but against both Atletico Madrid and Watford they looked short of ideas in the attacking third and managed only one shot on target in those two games combined.

Indeed, the Watford loss was the first time Klopp's side had drawn a blank in the league since March 2019 - 36 games ago - while they have not failed to score in successive top-flight outings since May 2018.

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring their third goal with Trent Alexander-Arnold on February 24, 2020© Reuters

Of course, the recent slump must be kept in the context of what has still been a season the likes of which we may never see again, but failure to pick up all three points against Bournemouth on Saturday would crank the pressure up a few more notches, particularly ahead of Atletico's visit.

Returning to Anfield should help them, though; while Liverpool have now lost three successive away games for the first time since November 2014, they have won their last 21 league outings in front of their own fans and are unbeaten in 54 stretching all the way back to April 2017.

Another victory on Saturday would see Klopp's class of 2019-20 surpass Bill Shankly's 1972 team in terms of most consecutive home wins in English top-flight history, and given Bournemouth's recent troubles on the road it would be another major surprise if that did not happen.

The Cherries make the trip to Anfield having lost each of their last five away outings and eight of their last nine in the top flight, while no team have lost more games on their travels this season.

Matters are more encouraging at home, where Bournemouth have only lost one of their last five league games, but their away form does not appear to put them in the best position to take advantage of a Liverpool side showing more signs of mortality than at any other stage of the campaign.

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe on February 1, 2020© Reuters

Eddie Howe's side have now slipped into the relegation zone despite faring better than Liverpool did against Chelsea in their last outing, earning a 2-2 draw against Frank Lampard's side having scored twice in the space of three second-half minutes.

Watford's victory over Liverpool ensured that Bournemouth would end the weekend in the bottom three, incidentally, and Howe will no doubt be looking at the Hornets' blueprint for inspiration of how to pull off a similar shock.

Nigel Pearson's side were similarly written off before ending the joint-longest winning run and second-longest unbeaten streak in English top-flight history, going on to record the biggest victory by a team inside the bottom three over top of the league since 1985.

Emulating that achievement at Anfield is a much tougher test, of course, but the result will have at least given Bournemouth some belief, while Liverpool's veil of invincibility has undoubtedly slipped in recent weeks.

The Cherries may also draw encouragement from the fact that they have beaten both Chelsea and Manchester United already this season, although a visit to Anfield is an entirely different proposition right now.

Bournemouth are likely to need one or two surprise results during the run-in, though, with Howe's side still due to face six of the current top seven in their final 10 games of the campaign.

Liverpool Premier League form: WWWWWL
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWLWLL

Bournemouth Premier League form: LWWLLD
Bournemouth form (all competitions): WLWLLD


Team News

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson receives medical attention after sustaining an injury on February 18, 2020© Reuters

Liverpool have been dealt a major blow with the news that Alisson Becker will miss both this game and the Champions League second leg against Atletico with a slight muscle strain he picked up in training this week.

Jordan Henderson's absence has also been keenly felt since limping off in the first leg of that tie, and while the skipper will again play not part this weekend, he could be in contention for the second leg.

There is better news regarding Naby Keita, though, with the Guinean returning to training on Thursday having missed the last two games.

Longer-term absentees Xherdan Shaqiri and Nathaniel Clyne remain sidelined, but a host of star names are expected to return to the starting lineup after sitting out in the FA Cup.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are among the players likely to come back in, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be pushing for a start ahead of James Milner, Adam Lallana and the fit-again Keita.

Salah, incidentally, has never failed to score in a game against the Cherries, netting seven times in five meetings.

Bournemouth will be without Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson, who is ineligible to face his parent club, while Arnaut Groeneveld, Charlie Daniels, David Brooks, Chris Mepham and Lloyd Kelly all remain sidelined through injury.

Howe could name an unchanged team to the one which drew with Chelsea last weekend, which would mean former Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke has to make do with a place on the bench.

Ryan Fraser has, by his own admission, fallen short of his own high standards so far this season, but only Liverpool's Alexander-Arnold has provided more Premier League assists than him since the start of last season.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; Stacey, S Cook, Ake, Smith; Billing, Lerma, L Cook; Fraser, C Wilson, King


Head To Head

Liverpool have utterly dominated this fixture in recent years, winning the last five editions by an aggregate scoreline of 17-0.

Indeed, of the 16 previous meetings between these two sides Liverpool have won 12, with Bournemouth last avoiding defeat and scoring a goal during a 2-2 draw at Anfield in April 2017 - the only occasion Liverpool have failed to beat the Cherries at Anfield.

However, arguably Bournemouth's most famous Premier League result did come in this fixture in December 2016 when they recovered from 3-1 down in the final 15 minutes to win 4-3, with Nathan Ake grabbing a dramatic winner in stoppage time.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Liverpool 2-0 Bournemouth

On paper, this looks to be the ideal fixture for Liverpool to get themselves back on track. They have a formidable record against Bournemouth, have been almost unstoppable at Anfield this season and take on a Cherries side in poor form struggling against relegation.

Of course, last weekend's Watford defeat proves that nothing can be taken for granted, but we cannot see anything other than a Liverpool return to winning ways on Saturday.



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General view inside Liverpool's Anfield from April 2018
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