Twice in the last week, Manchester City won to pull five points clear at the top of the Premier League, only for Liverpool to reel the leaders to within two points on both occasions. On Saturday, the Reds are in action first and have the chance to temporarily go top should they defeat Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in the lunchtime kick-off. Jurgen Klopp’s men are developing a happy knack of winning games at venues which have previously tripped them up, digging in to come from behind and beat Burnley on Wednesday. The Cherries have proven awkward opposition for Liverpool in the past and lie in seventh place, one position ahead of Manchester United. It promises to be another difficult afternoon for the Reds, but this weekend the fixture schedule gives them the chance to throw down the gauntlet to Man City rather than the other way around.
Last 6 Premier League games
Liverpool: W5, D1, L0, F 14, A 3, Pts 16
Bournemouth: W2, D0, L4, F 9, A 10, Pts 6
Liverpool have now claimed 19 of the last 21 Premier League points on offer, with only a draw at Arsenal denting an otherwise perfect record. Their away form has been especially impressive this term (at least domestically), with six wins from their eight games on the road so far, the latest of which came at Burnley in midweek. Indeed, the Clarets became just the second team to go in front against Liverpool in the league this season, following on from Chelsea in September. On both occasions, the Merseysiders came from behind to claim results and remain unbeaten in the Premier League since May.
On the face of it, Bournemouth’s recent form might not seem impressive, although Tuesday’s win over Huddersfield arrested a run of four straight defeats. Even that unenviable sequence is qualified by them facing Arsenal and both Manchester clubs in that run. Indeed, the Cherries led against Man United and were at 1-1 against both Arsenal and Man City, so Klopp will be well advised to take heed of how regularly Eddie Howe’s men can trouble the big teams. Also, they managed to score in each of those four consecutive losses and have netted in their last six games dating back to a goalless draw against Southampton in October. However, they are without a clean sheet in their last five matches after Terence Kongolo netted for Huddersfield in the south coast in midweek.
Premier League head-to-head record
Liverpool have had the lion’s share of points in this fixture since Bournemouth’s Premier League debut in 2015 and the Reds have done the double on the men from the south twice in the last three seasons. All four of the Cherries’ points against Liverpool came in 2016/17 when they won at the Vitality Stadium and claimed a draw at Anfield.
Liverpool were the opponents for Bournemouth’s first away match in the Premier League in August 2015 and the top flight newcomers were unlucky to lose 1-0 courtesy of a Christian Benteke goal which should have been disallowed for offside. The Reds won 2-1 on the south coast later that season, goals from Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge ensuring that Joshua King’s stoppage-time strike was a mere footnote.
The teams’ next meeting in December 2016 was a crazy affair. Liverpool twice had two-goal leads and were 3-1 to the good going into the final 15 minutes, but a quickfire double from the home side levelled it at 3-3 and then, in added time, a Loris Karius blunder gifted Nathan Ake an unlikely winner for Bournemouth. Four months later, Liverpool again tossed away points late on against the Cherries, this time after coming from behind to lead 2-1, with King plundering an 87th-minute equaliser to hamper the Reds’ top four prospects.
After carelessly relinquishing leads against Bournemouth twice in the 2016/17 campaign, Liverpool made no mistake in either of last season’s clashes. They cruised to a 4-0 away win just under a year ago and then had a 3-0 victory at Anfield in April, Sadio Mane scoring early before second-half goals from Firmino and Mohamed Salah finished the job.
Last Vitality Stadium meeting
Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool, 17 December 2017
A week before Christmas, Liverpool travelled to the Vitality Stadium off the back of two disappointing home draws for their first visit since that 4-3 kamikaze effort the previous year. The Reds were again 2-0 up inside half an hour, with Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren on target, and Salah extended the lead on the stroke of half-time. Following a brief Bournemouth resurgence early in the second half, Firmino added a fourth on 66 minutes to ensure that Liverpool would saunter to the finish line and exact retribution for the December 2016 defeat at this venue.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s stoppage-time insurance goal against Burnley in midweek was Liverpool’s 30th in the Premier League this season, taking their average to exactly two per game. Bournemouth are not far behind, having netted 25 times in their 15 matches to date.
While Salah is Liverpool’s most prolific league scorer so far with seven goals, he is still outdone by Callum Wilson, who currently has eight to his name this season, matching his total from 2017/18. Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (10) and Harry Kane (9) have scored more Premier League goals in 2018/19 than Bournemouth’s number 13.
Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser currently has the most assists out of any Premier League player this season with seven. In addition, the Scotland international has four goals so far this term.
While this is Bournemouth’s fourth season in the Premier League, it is the sixth season in a row in which Liverpool have played at the Vitality Stadium. They twice visited in cup competitions at either end of 2014, winning an FA Cup clash in January and a League Cup quarter-final in December.
Since the teams’ first Premier League clash in August 2015, all of their meetings have been played in December or April. However, barring postponements, that sequence will come to an end later in the season as Bournemouth are due to visit Anfield in February. Also, this will be the fourth time in the last five years that Liverpool have played at the Vitality Stadium in December.
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