Liverpool 2-1 AFC Bournemouth: 3 talking points from the Reds' comeback win | Premier League 2019-20
- Liverpool returned to winning ways with a nervy 2-1 victory over Eddie Howe's Cherries. Here are 3 talking points from the game!
Liverpool returned to winning ways in the Premier League, with a nervy 2-1 victory over Bournemouth taking them 25 points ahead of Manchester City and just three wins away from a maiden Premier League crown.
After a near-perfect start to the season, the Reds have faltered in the last fortnight, suffering three defeats from four, with their loss to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League prompting a first defeat in the league and elimination from the FA Cup.
All those matches had one thing in common in that Liverpool were away from home and they returned to the comfort of Anfield when they hosted the Cherries but started the game in equally disastrous circumstances when Callum Wilson put the visitors ahead after a brilliant team move.
Mohamed Salah restored parity for the hosts when he showed excellent technique to control a loose pass by Sadio Mane before finishing past Aaron Ramsdale with a reversed finish to celebrate his 100th league appearance for Liverpool and normalcy was returned just before half-time when Virgil Van Dijk found Mane with a defence-splitting pass that the Senegalese finished with aplomb.
The second half was a less intense affair, although both sides fashioned some chances, with Mane hitting the post, while Bournemouth also saw a chance cleared off the line and mounted a late surge but the hosts held on to make it a record 22 straight home wins in the league.
The win would come as a welcome relief to fans of Liverpool and would instill much-needed confidence ahead of their marquee Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid and here, we shall be highlighting three talking points from the fixture.
#3 Even in victory, Liverpool were far from their best
In the buildup to this clash, Jurgen Klopp suggested that his players retained 100% of his confidence and that he would be 'crazy' to have doubts over his players' abilities and while the media and rivals fans might have been guilty of embellishing the significance of Liverpool's recent defeats, it cannot be denied that the champions-elect have been below par since returning from the winter break.
Their victories against Norwich and West Ham were far from impressive, while they were listless in each of the defeats to Atletico Madrid, Watford, and Chelsea, lacking the usual intensity that has been the hallmark of their game.
Against Bournemouth, a number of Liverpool players were ordinary, with James Milner, Virgil van Dijk, Salah, and Sadio Mane the only players that ended the game with their reputations in check.
Fabinho was guilty of giving away possession in dangerous situations, while Trent-Alexander Arnold struggled to find any consistency in his deliveries from dead-ball situations or open play and Jurgen Klopp's men had individual errors from Bournemouth to thank for both their goals.
No team has played more matches than Liverpool in the last one year and it would have been foolhardy to expect them to maintain the same performance level throughout the season considering how energy-intensive their game is but as we approach the crunch end of the season, the players would have to dig deep and find reserves of energy to avoid their season finishing in an anti-climax.
#2 Roberto Firmino's Anfield goal drought goes on
Liverpool's immaculate front three of Salah, Mane, and Firmino have received high praise since linking up in the summer of 2017 and while the former two might win most of the plaudits for their frequency in finding the back of the net, it is the latter who is seen by many as the glue that holds the frontline together.
Despite playing as a centre-forward, Firmino does not perform in the traditional 'number 9' position, instead drifting around to help create the spaces to exploit for his teammate, while his excellent technique and holdup ability means he can fashion chances from he tightest of corners.
This season, the Brazilian has scored 10 goals from 45 matches in all competitions but rather alarmingly, none of them have come at Anfield, with his last goal in front of the Kop coming 324 days ago when he scored the second goal in Liverpool's 2-0 victory over Porto in the Champions League quarterfinal last season.
This is rather shocking for a player of his quality and he had a perfect chance to break his duck in front of his fans when he was teed up by an excellent center from Mo Salah but the former Hoffenheim man leaned back and blazed his shot high and wide.
#1 Atletico Madrid will be relishing their chances with Adrian in goal
Adrian completed a modern-day version of a Cinderella story when he went from laid-off and clubless to Liverpool and a UEFA Super Cup champion in the space of 10 days.
The former West Ham man had been signed primarily as a back-up to Alisson but a calf injury sustained by the Brazilian saw him make more starts than he would have envisaged before the regular first-choice returned to full fitness.
During his time between the sticks, Adrian was solid if unspectacular and the alarming difference between him and Alisson was evident by the fact that Liverpool's rate of conceding goals shot up drastically.
Another injury, this time to Alisson's hip has put the 34-year-old once again in the spotlight and he started his first Premier League game since matchday 15 in the clash with Bournemouth.
There were signs of nerves throughout and although he made a good save to thwart Nathan Ake's goal-bound header, Adrian was largely unconvincing in his display, with his poor decision-making leading to panic in the area and a goal-line clearance by James Milner, while he also elected to punch on numerous occasions when a more confident goalkeeper would have gathered in his arms.
He looked particularly vulnerable from set-piece deliveries and with that a specialty of Atletico Madrid, you can be sure that the wily Diego Simeone would plot that as one of his major tactics in the return leg at Anfield.Published 07 Mar 2020, 21:06 IST