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First Team

Media View: Expert insight on Liverpool


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth will be hoping to hit the ground running following the winter break when they host Premier League counterparts Liverpool on Sunday (4.30pm kick-off).

Goals from Marcus Tavernier, Kieffer Moore and Justin Kluivert saw the Cherries come from behind to triumph 3-2 against QPR in the third round of the FA Cup at the start of January.

It was a seventh win in nine games for Andoni Iraola’s team who have also won six of their past eight matches in the top flight seeing them climb to 12th place in the table.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are two points clear at the top having lost just one of their first 20 games when they finished with nine men and went down 2-1 at Tottenham at the end of September.

Jürgen Klopp’s team are still in the hunt for silverware on four fronts – the Premier League, the Emirates FA Cup, the Carabao Cup and the Europa League, the only trophy to have eluded the manager during his time at Anfield.

The Reds have played 31 games in all competitions this season, winning 22, drawing six and losing three, finishing top of their Europa League group despite losing twice.

Ahead of Sunday’s clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with BBC Radio Merseyside sports editor Ian Kennedy.


Founded: 1892

Ground: Anfield

Nicknames: The Reds

Record appearances: Ian Callaghan – 857 games (1959-78)

Record goalscorer: Ian Rush – 346 goals in 660 games

Manager: Jürgen Klopp (appointed October 2015)

Club captain: Virgil van Dijk

League position: First

Leading goalscorer: Mohamed Salah (18 in all competitions)

Last game: Liverpool 2 Fulham 1 (Carabao Cup)

afcb.co.uk: How would you summarise the season so far?

IK: I think it’s been an excellent season so far for Liverpool. They have lost just once in the Premier League and that was a very controversial defeat at Tottenham where they had Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota sent off.

Going into the new year in a position where they are fighting on four fronts is exactly what Liverpool fans would have wanted. So yes, so far, certainly so good for Liverpool.

afcb.co.uk: How challenging is it going to be competing on four fronts?

IK: It will be challenging, but they have the experience not so long ago of doing exactly that when they ended up winning two out of the four.

They have that knowledge of how to do it and Jurgen Klopp and his coaching staff will have that knowledge of how to manage that kind of a season.

It’s going to be difficult, but I wouldn’t rule out Liverpool having a real good go at all four.

afcb.co.uk: Considering where they are now, what would supporters view as a successful season?

IK: Where they are now, Liverpool fans will be hoping they can challenge for the title and get back into the Champions League, that’s the main thing they have missed this season.

They’ve got the Europa League but, as a minimum, I think they will want to be in the Champions League next season. If they could go all the way in the cups, that would be great as well.

They certainly have the ability to do that. I think a challenge for the league title and some silverware would certainly be seen as a good season and an improved season.

afcb.co.uk: Who is their rising star?

IK: They’ve got more than just one.

Curtis Jones is having a good season and although you can’t really call Trent Alexander-Arnold a rising star, he’s been outstanding. He’s going to be a big a miss for them at the moment due to injury.

Harvey Elliott is another one who has come on and made a big impact in games, while Stefan Bajcetic is the one player they have missed a lot this season and is one for the future.

Jarell Quansah at centre-back looks a real prospect, not just for the future but for the present. He looks really calm and assured – and he’ll be there for many years to come by the look of it.

There are plenty of good young players there for sure.

afcb.co.uk: How is Jürgen Klopp away from the microphone and the media glare?

IK: He’s quite a grounded person. I don’t think he gets carried away with the celebrity, if you like, of being a high-profile football manager. He seems to be one of those people who you could have a drink with if such an occasion ever came about.

He has a great affinity with the supporters which has been borne out of a lot of success. But he does have that connection in the same way that some of the other great managers in the past have had, like Bill Shankly, for example.

There is a real connection with fans and I think he relates to them as well. He’s a funny guy and grounded. He doesn’t get too carried away with himself and, for that reason, he’s very popular.

afcb.co.uk: How big a miss are Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold going to be?

IK: Huge. We don’t know when Salah will be back from AFCON but any team in the world is going to miss him because he’s a world class player and has continued to score goals this season.

It will be interesting to see whether Liverpool decide to go into the transfer market, but they tend to be quite quiet in January.

There isn’t always a large amount of work done, so they might just try to navigate their way through it without him for now until he gets back next month.

He’s going to be a huge miss, as he would for any team, because he has been integral to the success of Liverpool.

Trent Alexander-Arnold seems to have gone up a level and a lot of people are talking about his central midfield role now. His passing and the way he strikes the ball, he is quality.

He is also going to be a big miss due to injury. When he plays, he can be the man who really makes Liverpool tick.

afcb.co.uk: Are any other key players either injured, suspended or away on international duty?

IK: Wataru Endo came in at the start of the season and it took him a while to get used to the Premier League. But he has found his feet now and is at the point where he’s having a run in the side. He’s been important in the number-six role but he’s away for the Asian Cup so is another miss.

Dominik Szoboszlai has been a miss and might be back soon, maybe for Sunday.

Alexis Mac Allister is returning from injury and so is Diogo Jota. They are key players who are having to be dealt with carefully and not rushed back too soon because it’s a very busy time of the season.

afcb.co.uk: How do you see this one panning out and what’s your score prediction? 

IK: It’s an interesting one because, looking from afar, we’ve seen how much Bournemouth have improved, certainly from the start of the season.

They played Liverpool early in the season and it felt as though they were struggling.

But, my word, they have turned it around and they are getting good results at places like Manchester United.

A lot of people took notice of that result and I’m sure it has given them a lot of belief. They have also had a few other good away wins.

Liverpool have had a couple of problems at Vitality Stadium over the past few years and it’s never a comfortable place for them to go.

If Liverpool are to win, they will have to play well and work really hard. I think they might just sneak it, maybe 2-1, but I think it will be close and Bournemouth will give them a good game.

You can follow BBC Radio Merseyside on X (formerly Twitter) – @bbcmerseyside

Officials: Andrew Madley (referee), Simon Bennett (assistant), Nick Hopton (assistant), Graham Scott (fourth official), Paul Tierney (VAR).

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