Liverpool responded to a poor start to the season in the best way imaginable, scoring for fun against a poor Bournemouth side.
Liverpool 9-0 Bournemouth
Premier League, Anfield
August 27, 2022
Goals: Díaz 3′, 85; Elliott 6′; Alexander-Arnold 28′; Firmino 31′, 62′; Van Dijk 45′, Mepham og 46′; Carvalho 80′.
He dropped deep to great effect, and this time had options around him once he picked the ball up in these pockets of space.
This confidence was on show when he scooped a ball over the Bournemouth defence for Salah, and it could have easily been another goal but for a save from Mark Travers.
He played a key part in what could have been a great team goal had Salah finished at the far post, back-heeling a pass to Elliot.
A third assist came, shortly followed by a goal, and another goal. On the face of it they were opportunistic contributions, but Firmino was in the right place at the right time, and more importantly, in contrast to the United game, his teammates were too.
A midfield with better balance
It’s the hot topic around Anfield at the moment, and though this game wasn’t the biggest test a Liverpool midfield will ever get, it was nevertheless an improvement, though it would have been difficult to be worse than the Man United showing.
Fabinho‘s return to the lineup having been benched against United provided the much-needed anchor, but he was also able to carry the ball forward when needed.
Any midfield upgrade from the transfer market will surely come on the left-hand side. Henderson wasn’t the tidiest in possession in that role today, but he didn’t really need to be.
The captain is more used to playing on the right where he can send his trademark crosses in, but here he was encouraged to be more direct through the middle.
The same could be said of left-footed Elliott on the other side, and his threat cutting inside was perfectly demonstrated by his goal, finding the far corner with a perfectly placed effort with his stronger foot.
Subs take their opportunity
Such a comfortable win, with the game over within 30 minutes, an opportunity to rotate the team within a game itself, and Klopp wasted no time doing so, replacing Elliott with Fabio Carvalho at half time.
This gave both young midfielders — Carvalho replaced Elliott like-for-like in midfield — plenty of game time in a confidence-boosting victory.
The versatility of Carvalho told as he moved to the left wing, with Diaz shifting central and Bajcetic taking up that right midfield spot.
At the start of the game, it didn’t look like the strongest Liverpool bench, and that’s maybe a case for more movement in the transfer market, especially now five subs are allowed, but this turned out to be the ideal for such a group of young players to get game time and experience.
Carvalho rounded off the afternoon with his first goal, in front of the Kop no less, before 17-year-old Bobby Clark, who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, made his debut with around 10 minutes to go.
Liverpool 9 (nine), Bournemouth 0
Though the Kop wanted 10 to beat the record for the biggest-ever Premier League win, which stands at 9-0, equalling such a record is still some feat.
It’s especially so given the position Liverpool were in going into this game, where there were even some doubts as to whether they’d win it at all.
“We want 10,” shouted the Kop. “Attack, attack, attack,” came the chants. But the thirst for a new record was soon replaced by an appreciation of what they had just witnessed.
It was a league campaign back on track, and a goal difference massively boosted to make up for the early stutters this season. Looking forward to the next game rather than being nervous about it.
Games come thick and fast from no on
Liverpool often do better when they can build momentum and play regular games.
One game per week can be better for player recovery and tactical preparation, but Klopp’s side can be at their best when they’re in their groove with little time to think between games.
There are now two games per week for the foreseeable future, with a tricky midweek league game against Newcastle to come, and potentially even trickier Champions League ties on the horizon, not least the Napoli fixtures.
Rotation will be key, but even more important will be the muscle memory of scoring a load of goals in the previous game, and hopefully taking that into the next.
Games are the best way to recover confidence, and Liverpool need to put a winning run together in the league to take advantage of dropped points elsewhere if there are any. 9-0 against Bournemouth was a good start.