Date: 18th December 2017 at 6:51am
Written by: Neil Dawson

The memories of last years epic comeback against Liverpool were recalled at 0-1,0.2 and 0-3 and even among the blindly optimistic or drunk fans at 0-4 but it wasn’t to be. I think even a consolation goal would have been a travesty such was the paucity of class, effort or fight from Bournemouth this afternoon.

Apparently people can’t play three times in 8 days anymore as Eddie rang the changes from the team so impressive at Old Trafford with Cook, Surman, Ibe, Defoe and Pugh returning to the starting line up. It didn’t do much for fluency with the team looking unfamiliar with each other from the off. Misplaced passes – the continual long ball down the channel to Defoe which should have been to King and an inability to close down giving Liverpool an easy introduction to a game that should have challenged them more

Lewis Cook set the pattern by ignoring his song and giving the ball away nearly every time he had it. He was saved from being the worst central midfielder on the pitch by (as we also know from the same ditty) the fact he plays with Andrew Surman who turned in his normal abject game against decent class opponents. With the two of them having as successful a pass rate to Liverpool players as Coutinho and Defoe and Ibe challenging as much as the England cricket team we were on a hiding to nothing.

And that is what we got. COUTINHO, who had earlier hit the post with a free-kick, cutting in with Smith and Francis backing off to allow him to shoot. Clever move as he is not renowned for shooting on the run or anything……. he beat both and slid the ball past Begovic. That set the ball rolling and the defending got even more comical for the second with a Sunday League style leaving of a bouncing high ball allowing Winaldum to hook back for LOEVREN to be the only player to react and dive to head the ball home.

To compound the misery – King limped off holding his ham-string and on came Stan.

Bournemouth rallied and had their only dominant mini-spell of the game with some passing coming together, the pinnacle of this being Defoe bursting on to a one-on one through ball but hitting the post from a situation you would normally put money on.

Liverpool stepped up a gear and made it three before the break when SALAH cut inside Daniels and Ake and poked past Begovic in a right side replica of Coutinho’s effort.

HT Bournemouth 0 Liverpool 3

Eddie responded by bringing on the architect of last seasons come-back, Fraser, for Pugh at half time and the little Scot buzzed around in normal fashion but to little avail with so little to give it too moving forwards. Defoe did cut in and force a good save but there was little else and the relentless tide of Liverpool carried on but with fat less urgency and a game killing mode about it which destroyed it as a spectacle. Any one walking around outside the ground would have been forgiven for thinking the reserves were at home as you could hear the shouts of the players and the thump of the ball far more than any spectators. Even Liverpool fans sang Christmas carols and wondered what time the bus would get away.

They turned the screw a little more when FIRMINHO headed home from an offside position and Ings was unlucky not to score with his first touch but hit the side netting. It was all very tedious and it was a merciful relief to both sides when the whistle went.

FT Bournemouth 0 Liverpool 4

Begovic 5 – Couple of good saves, kicking poor, at fault for second.

Smith 4 – Defensively missing and didn’t do much going forwards.
Francis 4 – Taken apart too often and not commanding enough.
Ake 5 – Must wonder what he is doing here sometimes. Half decent.
Daniels 5 – Kept trying to get things going and cut out a lot of balls.

Pugh 4 – Anonymous and too slow against top class teams.
Cook 4 – Gave the ball away, lacked fight or cover, few good runs.
Surman 3 – As above without the few good runs.
Ibe 3 – Seriously poor, lacks any awareness or control. Why start him?

King 4 – Lost in the hole this season and never gets going.
Defoe 4 – A passenger unless you are giving him chances on a plate.

(Subs – Stanislas 6 – some nice moments – Fraser 5, Cook 5)

Verdict
Another day that makes you worry for our Ed. Too many obvious things this season continually missed and boy are we paying for it. Major points for me are:

1) You have to put your best players on the pitch. Steve Cook, Harry Arter, Ryan Fraser are better premier league players historically and now than some of the ones that start in front of them. We can not afford to leave our top players out as we are not good enough.

2) Defoe and Ibe are passengers when it comes to physicality and pressing. You can maybe afford one but to play two against a team that specialise in pressing was plain stupid.

3) 4-4-2 against top teams means the two central midfielders have a hell of a job on their hands. Harry has done it historically (that Kante role of grinding teams down with relentless harrying) but neither of todays two have and both gave up at critical times and offered no protection to the defence. The gap between them and King is too big and to have Defoe doing that run on to the curved ball behind the defence is madness when you have King in the team.

4) Last year Afobe bullied the Liverpool centre-backs at Anfield. It is well documented they can’t handle strength in the air. We played Ibe, Defoe, Fraser, Cook, Surman, Pugh…. twice Franno looked up to see Fraser and Defoe in the box and realised there was no point in crossing. That’s just poor management and knowledge of the opposition.

5) Loyalty to stalwarts. Francis and Surman every week – everyone else gets rotated they can play as poorly as they like…. Pugh, love him to bits but Liverpool? I’m not sure.

It’s important to add that we shouldn’t expect to beat Liverpool, and I don’t. You expect a line up and formation that gives you the best chance, or invention within the game. Last year we were just as poor in the first 70 minutes against them but we had Wilson, Wilshere, Afobe, Arter, Steve Cook going at them and terrorising them. Four of those players watched Jordan Ibe from the stands this year. It’s just not good enough, it hasn’t been for the vast majority of the season and it is showing in the league position. Eddie – you need to sort it out.

Report by Neil Dawson