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Liverpool thumped their arch-rivals Manchester United 7-0 in their last game
Bournemouth went down 3-2 to Arsenal, leaving them bottom of the table
Liverpool should prove too strong for Bournemouth when they meet on Saturday
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The Reds have found form again in the Premier League and Bournemouth could pay the price.
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This has been a largely disappointing season for Liverpool, but last weekend’s meeting with Manchester United will go down in history. The Reds demolished their arch-rivals 7-0 in front of a delirious Anfield crowd, inflicting upon United their joint-heaviest defeat of all time.
It was a stunning showing. Liverpool only led 1-0 at half-time, and their opening goal arguably came against the run of play. But they blew Erik ten Hag’s team away after the break, scoring six times without reply to give the club’s fans a day they will never forget.
It was also a significant result beyond the issue of rivalry. Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United also suffered defeat at the weekend, so Liverpool were able to gain ground on several of their fellow contenders for a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are now just three points adrift of the final Champions League qualification spot, which is currently occupied by Spurs. Liverpool have a game in hand of the north Londoners, and the best online sportsbooks now have them down as favorites to join Arsenal, Manchester City, and Manchester United in the top four.
Ordinarily, simply qualifying for the Champions League would be nothing to celebrate for a team that has consistently won trophies throughout Klopp’s tenure. But given the Reds were out of form and down in mid-table just a few weeks ago, things are starting to look up again at Anfield.
Because their game against Bournemouth is the early kick-off on Saturday, Liverpool have the chance to pile the pressure on Tottenham and Manchester United above them. Indeed, a win at the Vitality Stadium would see the Reds move into fourth spot ahead of Spurs’ clash with Nottingham Forest.
Bournemouth arrived at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday more in hope than expectation. Yet when the Cherries stormed into a 2-0 lead over Arsenal, the team in pole position to win the Premier League title, it was hard for them not to start dreaming of a memorable victory.
Those dreams were ultimately shattered in the most heartbreaking circumstances. After goals from Thomas Partey and Ben White restored parity, Reiss Nelson scored a dramatic winner deep into second-half stoppage time. Several Bournemouth players slumped to the floor when the ball hit the net.
In many ways, Gary O’Neil’s side could be proud of their performance. They gave Arsenal a tougher game than the vast majority of visitors to the Emirates this season. Mikel Arteta’s men were given a genuine scare by the sportsbooks’ favorites for relegation.
On the other hand, the manner of the defeat will have been a bigger blow to Bournemouth than a low-key 2-0 loss would have been. It could be difficult for the Cherries to pick themselves up in time for the visit of Liverpool, who suddenly have some momentum behind them as they eye the top four.
Bournemouth have arguably fared better than most Premier League followers expected them to this season. After losing 9-0 to the Reds in the reverse fixture in August, some opined that they could go down as one of the worst teams in Premier League history.
Instead, the Cherries are only one point adrift of safety as we prepare to enter the business end of the campaign. However, unless they tighten up at the back they will almost certainly be relegated. With 51 goals conceded in 25 fixtures, Bournemouth have the worst defensive record in the division by some distance.
That 9-0 defeat at Anfield in the first month of the campaign spelled the end for Scott Parker as Bournemouth manager. He was not sacked purely because of the result, but rather for his criticism of the club in the aftermath of the joint-heaviest loss of all time in the Premier League.
Another 9-0 is improbable, but this will probably be a comfortable victory for Liverpool. There are signs that Klopp’s team are finally clicking. The 7-0 shellacking of Manchester United means they have now taken 13 points from the last 15 available. No team in the league has accumulated more points since the beginning of February.
This is therefore a bad time for Bournemouth to play Liverpool, who have a real incentive to make a statement of intent on Saturday and displace Tottenham in the fourth spot.
Bournemouth have played eight games against the Premier League’s big six of Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur. They have lost all eight of them, and six of the defeats have been by a two-goal margin or more.
There is reason to believe Saturday’s meeting with Liverpool will follow suit. Bournemouth are unlikely to lose 9-0 again, but the Reds should be able to triumph by more than just one goal.
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Teams: Bournemouth vs Liverpool
Location: Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, England
Date and Time: Mar. 11, 2023, 7.30 a.m. EST
How to Watch: Peacock Premium
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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