Liverpool rampaged through Bournemouth‘s defence at will and came up with a convincing 3-0 win at Anfield on Saturday evening.
Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth
April 14, 2018
Premier League, Anfield
Goals: Mane 7′, Salah 67′, Firmino 89′
It could have been slow, difficult to get up for, for fans and players alike—but Jurgen Klopp had his team prepared and disciplined.
The front three pressed high, the midfield squeezed up and were constantly onto the second ball, and the Cherries couldn’t get out of their own half as a result.
Plenty of chances were created as a result of that insistence on quickly recovering possession and it was heartening to see the Reds play in the same manner in a match which had much less riding on it.
An early goal was just reward for the team’s insistence on playing high, hard and fast, and it should really have been two or three by the break.
After a pair of matches where Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s defensive maturity and consistency was praised, the first half at Anfield showcased the right-back’s attacking quality.
He was part of the group pressing and quickly winning back the ball, but it was what he did with it once in possession which impressed most.
So often, Alexander-Arnold was quick to get his head up, spot the passing opportunity and execute his delivery perfectly.
Trent Alexander-Arnold's game by numbers vs. Bournemouth:
100% take-ons completed
7 long balls
4 chances created
3 tackles won
Phenomenal display (again). ? pic.twitter.com/ATCp44qTmi
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 14, 2018
A low cross, a whipped effort over the defensive line, a fizzed pass into the penalty area: Trent was capable of delivering them all and did so continuously.
His assist for Salah was Gerrard-esque: a crossed pass from deep, inch-perfect and right onto the Egyptian’s head. An unstoppable delivery.
Mane making use of Firmino’s freedom
Speaking of Mane, he was comfortably the most involved member of the front line in the opening 45 minutes thanks to tremendous movement and opportunism.
The left-sided attacker scored his goal thanks to a pattern which was oft-repeated: Roberto Firmino dropping deep, Mane’s diagonal run filling the space and a pinpoint delivery to find him.
Mane has taken criticism at times for being off-form; there was a dip, sure, but really what we’ve seen has been Mane being far more often in goalscoring positions.
He’s not as clinical as one or two of his team-mates, but his movement is genuinely excellent, getting away from defenders and finding spaces with ease.
His pace is of course an asset, but there’s intelligence to Mane too, and selflessness at times.
One effort was saved before he finished the rebound, but he could easily have scored a further one or two goals on the day.
40-up for Salah
Another game, another clutch of notable achievements for Mohamed Salah.
His instinctive header to put the Reds two clear was his 40th of the season, the first Liverpool player to hit the milestone since Ian Rush in 1987 and only the third Red ever.
It was also his 30th league goal of the campaign, only the eighth player from any club to reach that tally in the Premier League era.
Incredibly, it also leaves Salah in the top 70 goalscorers in Liverpool’s entire history—despite not even yet spending one full season in the shirt.
The all-time Premier League record is within sight, and Roger Hunt’s 42-goal haul from 61/62 is also close to falling—the second-best single-season tally for a Liverpool player.
Mission top four: Almost complete
The Reds end the weekend on 70 points – one shy of second-place Man United, albeit having played two games more.
They have reached the milestone commonly associated with a top-four finish, and although it may turn out to be a couple of points higher this season, they are still very close to achieving their primary season objective.
Chelsea, fifth, trail by 10 points with one game in hand, but they need a near-faultless end of the season to trouble the Reds now.
Another game ticked off, another Anfield match undefeated, and the Reds continue to relentlessly roll forward under Klopp.