Bournemouth vs. Liverpool
Sunday 17th April 2016, 13:30 (GMT)
Referee: Mike Jones
Thursday’s astonishing 4-3 win against Borussia Dortmund was one of the great nights in Liverpool’s history, but now they must retain focus on their domestic fixtures, starting with the trip to the south coast.
Klopp and his players will have had less than 72 hours to recover from that unforgettable triumph when they face Bournemouth, and the manager is therefore likely to make plenty of changes to his starting 11.
Eddie Howe’s side will be tricky opponents for the Reds on Sunday afternoon, with the Cherries performing admirably in their first ever campaign in the Premier League.
As the weeks have passed since Klopp’s arrival at Anfield in October, Liverpool have become more and more of a force.
They haven’t been perfect, by any means, but the quality of football and ability to dig deep is now more apparent than ever. You only have to see the victory over Dortmund to see that.
The Reds have only lost once in their last 13 matches in all competitions – the 3-2 defeat to Southampton – and everything looks positive ahead of next season.
Getting key players fit again has certainly been a big reason for Liverpool’s resurgence, with Klopp now having options in all areas of the pitch.
The Reds won 4-1 at home to Stoke at Anfield last Sunday, and another three points this weekend would help improve on their disappointing current league position (8th).
Bournemouth were tipped for relegation at the start of the campaign, perhaps understandably, but they have quietly gone about their business impressively.
After a shaky-looking start, when it looked as though the Cherries were out of their depth, Howe has done a superb job in steadying the ship. It is easy to forget how unlucky they have been with injuries, too.
The south coast team have been inconsistent in recent weeks, but they have kept plugging away and earning enough points to ensure safety for another year.
They have beaten Swansea, Southampton and Newcastle in their last six games, though, and currently sit a more than respectable 11th in the table.
Form Guide (Last 10 games)
In the league, Christian Benteke scored the only goal of the game back in August, but Bouremouth were unfortunate not to get something from the match. The Belgian was also in an offside position when he scored.
Klopp had taken charge when the two sides came up against each other in the fourth round of the League Cup in October, and again Liverpool won 1-0.
Nathaniel Clyne was the unlikely goalscorer on the night, with the Englishman ensuring the Reds reached the quarter-finals.
Both teams also met in the same competition last season, when Bournemouth were still in the Championship. Liverpool cruised to a 3-1 victory, with a Raheem Sterling double and Lazar Markovic strike proving key.
Prior to that, the last meeting between the two was way back in 1968.
Despite unbridled joy on Thursday against Dortmund, the one negative to come out of the game was an injury to Emre Can.
The German is set for a prolonged spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury, possibly missing the rest of the season. The German would have been suspended for this game anyway.
Howe has more injury concerns than Klopp, but the 38-year-old’s problems in the physio room have eased a little in comparison to earlier in the season.
Benik Afobe and Tokelo Rantie are definitely out of Sunday’s game, while Adam Smith, Harry Arter and Junior Stanislas are major doubts. Tyrone Mings is out until September.
What the Managers Say
Speaking of Can’s injury, Klopp said in his pre-match press conference: “We have to find other situations – it is not about moaning about the situation.
“We have to play in a different way, we have to give the job to different people and change the style. That’s how it always is. It’s not that we can only play like this.”
Howe wants his side to raise their game against the Reds, saying: “They are a strong side and he [Klopp] is imprinting his ideas on them, you can see that with the way they press and work.
“We will anticipate a hard-working and full of energy Liverpool team. You can’t predict them too much, we have to focus on what we are going to do.
Odds & TV Info
Liverpool are favourites to win on their travels, although their 6/5 odds are proof that they are not strongly fancied to head back north with three points in the bag. Both a Cherries win and a draw are 5/2.
Sturridge is likely to start proceedings, having only featured from the substitutes’ bench on Thursday, and he is the 9/2 favourite to score first.
Firmino may also get some more game time, as he still looks to find top form after injury, and he is 6/1 to register first on the day.
Callum Wilson, who has missed most of 2015/16 through injury, is 13/2 to open the scoring, while forward Josh King is 8/1.
The match is not being televised in the UK, although live streams will no doubt be available as always.