AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe admitted that his side found things difficult at Anfield the home of Liverpool.
After a week in which Liverpool had beaten Premier League champions elect Manchester City, twice, in the UEFA Champions League, the Cherries travelled to Merseyside to take on Jurgen Klopp’s confident Liverpool side.
The Cherries lined up with a back three of Simon Francis, Nathan Ake and Steve Cook, with Ryan Fraser and Charlie Daniels acting as wing backs on the flanks.
The midfield duo of Lewis Cook and Dan Gosling remained in situ, with Andrew Surman on the bench and Harry Arter not involved in the squad.
The front three were Joshua King and Jordon Ibe in support of Jermain Defoe. Although the attacking players didn’t have a huge involvement in the game, particularly Defoe, who was highlighted as only having three touches in the entire first 45 minutes.
At half time Liverpool just had the one goal lead, with Sadio Mane opening the scoring, pouncing on the rebound after an initial save by Cherries ‘keeper Asmir Begovic.
In the second half, Mohamed Salah scored his 30th Premier League goal of the 2017/18 campaign when he looped his header over Begovic following a sublime ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Roberto Firmino rounded off the scoring in the 91st minute to make it 3-0 to the home side.
The result left the Cherries 11th in the Premier League table, maintaining a ten point gap over Southampton who remain in the relegation zone.
Howe told afcb.co.uk
“Full credit to Liverpool, they’ve grown as a team and they’ve showed that throughout the season.
“They’re a tough team to play at the moment, we struggled to live with their pace, energy and intensity. We rode our luck at times and were pleased it was 1-0 at half time.
“The second half we improved greatly and were well in the game – we created chances to make the game interesting.
“We were passive in the first period and too deep in our defensive line – their front three are outstanding players and we found it a challenge to keep them at bay.
REACTION: #AFCB boss Eddie Howe reflects on his sides 3-0 defeat to Liverpool away at Anfield
— BBC Solent Sport (@solentsport) April 14, 2018
Our defence: half the problem is in midfield. Gosling routinely returns the ball to the opposition, leaving Cook L exposed and putting the defence under pressure.
A strong midfielder capable of holding the ball is surely the Number 1 priority. Agreed that Francis and Daniels need replacement but the defence as a whole will struggle if the midfield can’t hold the ball and recycle. – Join the conversation