Liverpool face the long trip to the south coast on Sunday, as they take on a well-drilled Bournemouth side at the Vitality Stadium.
Bournemouth vs. Liverpool
Sunday, December 4, 2016 – 1:30pm (GMT)
Referee: Bobby Madley
Bournemouth welcome Liverpool to Dean Court, having established themselves as a solid top flight side under Eddie Howe.
The young English manager has his team playing some attractive football, and trips to the south coast are never straightforward occasions.
In many ways, their small ground makes it feel more like an FA Cup game, and some of the league’s top sides have come unstuck there in the past.
Liverpool are flying at the moment, though, and anything other than three points would be regarded as a disappointing result.
The loss of Philippe Coutinho is undoubtedly a big blow to Klopp, as the Christmas fixtures approach, but now is the time for the Reds to show that their squad depth is among the best in the division.
A win against the Cherries would be another significant result in a season that continues to go from strength to strength.
Last Meeting: Bournemouth 1-2 Liverpool
Opposition Q & A
Bournemouth sit 12th currently – how would you assess their season to date?
Good overall. We have almost double the amount of points we had at the same stage last season, so a couple of wins before the end of the year should put us in a relatively strong position going into 2017.
Who have been their star performers? How has Jordon Ibe done since joining from Liverpool in the summer?
Star performers have been our goalkeeper Artur Boruc and midfielder Harry Arter. Boruc has been injured recently but was looking very solid up to that point. Arter is the fulcrum of the team and we always look better when he is fit and playing.
They have all done well, with the possible exception of Ibe. He has a lot of talent but has to improve his decision-making. He has not started the last two games and the majority of Bournemouth fans would tell you it was not before time.
That said, Eddie Howe has had a positive impact on most of the players he has coached so we are hoping Ibe will turn it around after a few more months guidance from the manager.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, which Reds players are you wary of? What have you made of their start to the season?
Liverpool have been excellent this season and look genuine contenders for the title. I had my doubts about Klopp because of the way the press fawned all over him when he arrived but he has not been found wanting.
I think we are wary of all of your players, especially the likes of Mane, Firmino and Henderson. Lallana is also a worry – he is a local boy and I have always kept an eye on him. He has been superb this season and I will not be sorry if he does not return on Sunday.
Hit me with your prediction. How will the game pan out?
I’m going to go for a satisfying 0-0 draw. I can see us keeping it tight but we won’t park the bus like Sunderland. You have beaten us in all of our recent meetings and a clean-sheet and a point would certainly be seen as progress in these parts.
Away fans’ pubs: The Percy Florence Shelly, Christchurch Road; Portman, Ashley Road; The Queen’s Park, Ashley Road.
Coutinho remains the most high-profile injury casualty for Liverpool, with the Brazilian potentially out until mid January. Daniel Sturridge is also still not involved, with the 27-year-old struggling with a calf problem.
Adam Lallana is back in contention, after returning to training on Thursday, although Klopp has never been one to rush players back in the past.
Lallana has not featured since the 6-1 win over Watford in early November, and his return is timely, given the absence of Coutinho.
Man-of-the-moment Ben Woodburn could well make the matchday squad, and another goalscoring cameo from the 17-year-old would see his stock soar.
Bournemouth are without goalkeeper Artur Boruc and midfielders Andrew Surman and Lewis Cook, while Charlie Daniels and Junior Stanislas face late fitness tests ahead of the game. Jack Wilshere returns after being ineligible to face Arsenal last Sunday.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Bournemouth – Last five results (all competitions)
Klopp praised Bournemouth, as his side begin a run of games against mid-table teams:
“They were unlucky again last week and maybe should have had a penalty, could have had a result, for sure, and did well against a strong side.”
One to Watch: Jack Wilshere
Wilshere’s career has stalled in recent years, having looked one of English football’s most promising youngsters when he broke through at Arsenal.
The 24-year-old has been loaned out to Bournemouth this season, and he has both impressed and stayed injury-free to date.
A talented creative midfielder, Wilshere is someone who could hurt Liverpool on Sunday, and they must stay tight to him and not allow him to dictate things.
UK TV Info
The match is live on Sky Sports 1 from 12:30pm, with kick-off at 1:30pm.