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First Team

Three things we learned: Iraola discusses Liverpool


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Andoni Iraola faced questions from the press ahead of the Cherries’ Premier League clash with the Reds on Sunday.

Here are three things we learned…


Iraola knows the Cherries will have to be at their very best to become only the second team this season to beat Liverpool in the Premier League.

The Reds are currently 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.

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

Looking back on their two previous meetings this season and previewing a third, Iraola said: “I’m quite happy with the two games we have played against Liverpool, especially the second one in the Carabao Cup but, even then, we haven’t been able to take anything from them.

“They are top of the league, they are the most in-form team in the Premier League and they have lost one game all season when they finished with nine players.

“If we want to beat them, it’s not enough to just be at our level. We have to do something really good.

“We have to be at our best, we have to be clinical up front and we don’t want to make any mistakes. It takes a lot to beat these kind of teams.

“We have to give ourselves chances to score and try to limit them. It’s not going to be easy because they have elite-level players.

“But if we play like we did during November and December, I think we will have a chance.”


The Cherries will be hoping to hit the ground running following the winter break when they host the Premier League leaders and 19-time English champions.

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 13 days ago.

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.

Asked whether he felt the winter break had come at the right time for the Cherries, Iraola said: “It’s difficult to answer because it’s true we probably needed some days off or at least some rest, both physically and mentally.

“It’s true the team were playing well. We were in a good moment, we were getting good results and we have used this little break to recharge our energies.

“We are probably a little bit fresher, but everyone else will be the same.

“It’s normal for us to be the underdogs in a game like this. We are facing the top team and their stats are amazing. They are very good offensively, defensively, everywhere.

“But I think we have shown this season that if we have our day, if we don’t make mistakes and are focused and do a lot of good things, we have a chance.

“We don’t have anything guaranteed but we know that if we want to have any chance, we have to be really good.”


Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was full of admiration for Iraola and his staff ahead of Sunday’s meeting at Vitality Stadium.

The German acknowledged the turnaround under the Spaniard since the two coaches locked horns in the Premier League at Anfield at the start of the season.

Although Antoine Semenyo opened the scoring for the Cherries in the third minute, the Reds hit back to triumph 3-1 thanks to goals from Luis Díaz, Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota.

The Cherries gave Klopp’s team a good run for their money in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, Darwin Nunez coming off the bench to grab a stunning winner after Cody Gakpo’s opener had been cancelled out by Justin Kluivert’s first goal of the club.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Klopp said he admired what the Cherries were doing, adding the turnaround was down to “proper coaching” and having “a really good mix”.

Asked whether he had found Klopp’s comments flattering, Iraola replied: “I appreciate the words, it’s good to hear, especially considering who has said these things.

“What can I say about Jürgen?

“He is top level and they are doing really well this season. They have been the same kind of team you imagine when you face Liverpool – a top pressing team and you cannot rest against them.

“They are very good in transitions and in organised attacks. They have different options and they use different structures, with players inside and outside.

“There are a lot of things to prepare when you face them and I hope we are ready.”

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