AFC Bournemouth will be hoping to register a first win at Anfield when they meet Premier League high-fliers Liverpool.
Liverpool v AFC Bournemouth
Saturday 9 February
Premier League, 3pm
Liverpool’s pursuit of a first top-flight title in 29 years has taken a few knocks in 2019 and Jurgen Klopp’s team will be keen to get back on track.
Despite their impressive exploits this season, Klopp has understandably played down all talk of the Reds securing a 19th championship and a first since 1990.
Had they beaten Manchester City at the Etihad five weeks ago, Liverpool would have opened a 10-point gap between themselves and the reigning champions.
But goals from Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane condemned them to a first and only league defeat of the season as their 20-game unbeaten start came to an end.
To compound their woes, Liverpool surrendered top spot on Wednesday when City triumphed at Everton, with only goal difference separating the pair, although the Reds do have a game in hand.
Some pundits have been quick to suggest Liverpool’s challenge is in meltdown – probably the same ones who wrote off Manchester City after they had tasted defeat at Newcastle last week.
When Klopp first arrived at Anfield in October 2015, he said he wanted to turn the doubters into believers and the double-Bundesliga winner has certainly helped revive the club’s fortunes.
Runners-up in the Europa League in 2016 and the Champions League in 2018, he has led them to fourth-placed finishes in his two full seasons at the club.
Liverpool have won 19 of 25 Premier League games this season but saw their lead eroded following the City defeat and back-to-back 1-1 draws against Leicester and West Ham.
Injuries have disrupted their rhythm with Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren all unavailable against the Hammers on Monday, while James Milner and Virgil van Dijk started despite suffering the effects of a virus.
Giving his assessment of the title race to the media following the West Ham game, Klopp said: “I see your faces and you are feeling sorry for us but we are fine.
“If you get a point at West Ham, that’s fine. That’s not a surprise. If you want to win big things, you have to be ready for these tight races.
“If you want to be top at the end of the season, you have to deal with much tougher situations than we had today.
“For the last five, six, seven weeks, we have talked about a two-horse race but now Tottenham are in behind. For me, they are 100 per cent in the race.”
LAST TIME OUT
West Ham 1-1 Liverpool
Liverpool were held to a second successive 1-1 draw in a highly-controversial clash against the Hammers at London Stadium on Monday.
Sadio Mane’s 22nd-minute opener was allowed to stand even though James Milner had been offside in the build-up.
Michail Antonio netted a deserved equaliser six minutes later after the Reds defence had failed to read Felipe Anderson's disguised free-kick.
“We just didn’t enjoy the game enough,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
“It’s not about pressure, it’s about enjoying the situation you are in.
“We have 62 points and have lost one game in the whole season so far, which is very positive.”
2018-19 TOP SCORER
Mohamed Salah (19 goals in all competitions)
Liverpool unveiled Klopp as Brendan Rodgers’s successor in October 2015, giving the German his first taste of management in English football.
He led them to the Europa League final in 2016 and the Champions League final in 2018, although both ended in defeat.
Klopp enjoyed a successful seven-year stay with Borussia Dortmund, winning two Bundesliga titles and the German Cup. They also reached the Champions League final in 2013, losing to Bayern Munich at Wembley.
As a player, Klopp, who started his career as a striker and finished as a defender, made more than 300 appearances, most of which came during an 11-year spell with FSV Mainz 05 in Germany’s second tier.
Following his retirement, Stuttgart-born Klopp began coaching at Mainz in 2001 and oversaw promotion to the top flight in his third season in charge, ending a 41-year wait for their first season in the Bundesliga.
Following relegation and a failure to get Mainz back up at the first attempt, Klopp resigned in 2008 and was appointed as manager of Borussia Dortmund, winning his first title three years later.
- The Cherries have yet to register a victory at Anfield in six visits in all competitions, drawing one and losing five.
- Liverpool's Mohamed Salah is the leading goalscorer in the Premier League with 16.
- When the Cherries came ninth in 2016/17 – their highest finish in the Premier League – they amassed 33 points after 29 games. They currently have 33 after 25 games.
- James Milner has registered 81 assists in the Premier League, the seventh-highest total in the competition and one more than David Beckham.
- Alisson has kept 13 clean sheets in the Premier League, the most in the top flight.
- The Cherries have taken four points off Liverpool in the Premier League, all coming in 2016/17 when they won 4-3 at Vitality Stadium and drew 2-2 at Anfield.
- Liverpool are unbeaten at Anfield since West Brom triumphed 3-2 in the Premier League in January 2018, a run stretching 26 games.
- Ron Eyre, Benik Afobe and Joshua King are the three Cherries players to have scored at Anfield, while Emlyn Hughes netted an own goal in the FA Cup defeat in 1968.
- Liverpool have kept four clean sheets in seven games against the Cherries in the Premier League.