Liverpool host Bournemouth at Anfield on Wednesday night, looking to put together a run of five consecutive home victories for the first time under Jurgen Klopp, and the first time since April 2014 under Brendan Rodgers when they put together a run of six wins on the way to finishing second.
The reverse fixture earlier in the season saw Liverpool take a 3-1 lead on the south coast, before capitulating defensively, ending up on the receiving end of a 4-3 defeat. The game really was the beginning of the end of the Reds title challenge, and proved they still had a way to go to compete with Chelsea. Now, though, they are firmly in the race for the top four: a more than worthy cause to fight for.
Victory in the Merseyside derby on Saturday was blemished by an injury to Sadio Mane – the Senegalese will certainly miss this game, and could potentially be out for some time. His knee remains swollen, which shows something is awry, and until it calms down, he will be unable to get it scanned. Klopp suggested it is “possible” Mane could be out for the rest of the season, but that is really only a guess at this stage.
The injury presents a selection dilemma for Jurgen Klopp, as there is a suggestion that Emre Can will be missing too. Lucas will be required to play again, but whether his legs have enough to last two games in five days remains to be seen, and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who did well when he came on in the derby, may well start the game.
Harry Wilson, who has been exceptional for the under-23’s side he captains this season, is another alternative; he has sometimes featured on the bench recently but is yet to start a senior league game.
One senior player who will be back as an option is Daniel Sturridge, who is now back in full training. He is likely to come off the bench coming off another long period out of action, rather than being fit to start.
“Sturridge is in team training so it’s good to have him back,” Jurgen Klopp said in his press conference. His return is a timely one given Mane’s injury, and he will definitely be needed at some point between now and the end of the season.
“Bournemouth also played a derby and now they have to play at Anfield. That’s not the best thing I could imagine [for them],” he continued, keen to highlight that Liverpool should be confident heading into the game.
Klopp was also keen to draw attention to the good position Liverpool have put themselves in.
“This is a good situation. We have 59 points and I really want to use this. This is the finishing part of the season”.
Getting into the top four is now back in Liverpool’s hands. Starting on Wednesday evening, Liverpool have the best run-in of any of their Champions League-chasing rivals, and getting three points to back up the derby victory is vital.
WHEN DOES THE GAME KICK OFF?
The match starts at 20:00 GMT and is not on TV in the UK.
WHO IS THE REFEREE?
Lee Mason – certainly not one of the best referees in the country, the official from Bolton tends to get the lower-profile games. With Manchester City travelling to Chelsea on the same night, and Manchester United hosting Everton the previous day, he fits the bill for this one.
Mason refereed two of Liverpool’s games this season so far – defeats to Burnley and Hull. He was also due to officiate the defeat to Leicester City, but withdrew through illness.
He saw Bournemouth beat Hull 6-1 and draw 2-2 with Watford. This will be the first time he has refereed Liverpool at Anfield this season, and also the first time he has refereed Bournemouth away from home.
Bournemouth have kept consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League in their last two games; they have never recorded three clean sheets in a row in the top flight before.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Lucas, Alexander-Arnold, Wijnaldum; Firmino, Origi, Coutinho
Bournemouth: Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Arter, Wilshere; Fraser, King, Pugh; Afobe
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