Liverpool battled to a third win in seven days against Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon at Dean Court – a game that provided a number of positive talking points.
A much changed Reds XI picked up an impressive three points against Eddie Howe’s Cherries at Dean Court.
Strikes five minutes apart before half-time from Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge handed Liverpool a two goal lead, which Josh King reduced with a stoppage time effort.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side held on to claim a good victory, which, given the circumstances, was certainly a pleasing one and here are the talking points from the victory.
It’s taken a little while after a two-year injury hell, but Sturridge showed he is returning to his best with a shining performance.
The 26-year-old looked sharp in his movements showing good pace that he has previously been tentative in utilising. His touch was immaculate all afternoon as he displayed the benefits of enjoying his longest run of games in two years, making a fourth consecutive league start.
Sturridge’s class was evident as he glided effortlessly around the pitch, and his goal-scoring touch was on show as he planted a brilliant header into the near post from Jordon Ibe’s pin-point free-kick, and he could have had a couple more, denied only by the wood-work with one effort and impressively by Artur Boruc with another.
It was a real classy showing from the goal machine and it’s fantastic to see him moving back to his best just at the perfect time.
Allen Leads Midfield
Joe Allen has impressed hugely ever since Klopp arrived despite only receiving limited action, and the Wales international was in top form again.
The Welshman bossed the midfield battle with the assistance of Kevin Stewart, and his tidy, technical brilliance combined with his reading of the game in front of the back four did an excellent job in gaining control of the contest for large parts.
Allen’s distribution was as immaculate as ever too – he created a chance for Sturridge in the second half with an excellent through pass after pressing to win the ball back – and he was key in gelling a makeshift team together to produce a promising display.
As the games go by it becomes an even bigger mystery as to how Allen hasn’t yet earned himself a new deal, and though Klopp has said talks are on hold over his future, it is something that surely must be sorted soon.
Academy Bearing Fruits
Klopp made 10 changes to his side on the south coast, including handing starts to six academy graduates who all impressed against Howe’s side.
Danny Ward made an impressive debut between the sticks, while Connor Randall and Brad Smith made first league starts at full-back, where the right-back impressed with his defensive awareness and the Australia international caught the eye with some powerful forward runs.
Stewart enjoyed another decent if unspectacular outing in midfield alongside Allen, but the displays of Sheyi Ojo and Jordon Ibe really shone, with the attacking duo playing key parts in the goals – with the former Wycombe man grabbing an assist for Sturridge’s goal.
None of the youngsters let the side down and must be credited for producing an accomplished performance against a good footballing side, showing both their ability, and desire to battle when needed.
Most vitally, it was another good experience that boosted confidence for not only themselves, but for Klopp too who will know he can call on them without hesitation again.
Danny Ward Impresses on Debut
Since returning from a productive loan at Aberdeen, the Welsh stopper has had to be patient for his chance – but he took it with both hands.
The 22-year-old impressed hugely between the sticks, mostly with his distribution and ability to deal with dangerous situations with the minimum of fuss – two factors that almost seemed like a luxury with them notorious weak points of Simon Mignolet’s game.
Ward made saves at crucial moments – including a brilliant full-stretch stop to deny King’s header – and his desire to spring the Reds on their way as quickly was another welcome feature he offered. It was just a shame he couldn’t grab a clean sheet on debut.
Klopp has previously said he is in no doubt over Ward’s talent, and having displayed it with a convincing display, the Wales ‘keeper will hope for more opportunities in the remaining league campaign.
Respectful Hillsborough Tribute
A good afternoon on the south coast started on a note of real class as the home club paid tribute to the 96 Hillsborough victims.
Cherries captain, and lifelong Liverpool fan, Tommy Elphick, assisted by Reds stand-in skipper Lucas, laid a floral tribute in front of the away fans, before You’ll Never Walk Alone was played prior to kick-off for the travelling Kop to belt out, with some sections of the home support joining in while applauding the moment.
Dean Court then stood as one for a minutes’ silence which was impeccably observed by all sides of the ground, and it was a fantastic gesture from the club in Liverpool’s closest league game to the date of the tragic disaster 27 years ago – one that will certainly be remembered.