Written by Audenshaw Cherry
I arrived at Anfield with no expectation and very little hope. Clearly, after their little blip, the Champions Elect would make cannon fodder of us and probably put four or five past us. No King was the major disappointment to start the day and I must admit his replacement, Stanislas, did not fill my heart with any hope at all.
The game began, however, with the away team on the front foot and pressing onto a Liverpool, with a somewhat frail defensive line up. After only 7 minutes, Gomez made a complete hash of a clearance, despite Klopp’s complaint that he had been pushed (more of which later), play continued with WILSON taking control and the ball ending up on the wing and a quick, sharp cross finding him again unmarked to put the ball into the net. The reaction from the away crowd was a little muted following recent VAR decisions but a big cheer went up, finally when Liverpool kicked off again. The Cherries had a great chance to go two up soon after when a brilliant header from Ake was only parried over the bar by Adrian.
The turning point of the half came in the 19th minute, however, when, after a frenzied defensive victory, Cook stayed on the floor and had to be substituted by Simpson. Unfortunately, for the new arrival, he was responsible for the equaliser when he catastrophically failed to clear the lines and the ball fell to Salah who slotted the ball home.
Liverpool used their fast breakaway forwards and the long diagonal ball to great effect throughout the game and this continued to put Bournemouth under constant pressure, although the Cherries always looked dangerous on the break (like days of old) and it was by no means a one-sided game.
Once again, however, we contributed to our own downfall in the 33rd minute when Lewis Cook carelessly gave the ball away in midfield and the speedy counterattack gave the ever-dangerous Mane the opportunity to give Liverpool. I must admit to thinking that the game was up at this point but the defense remained steadfast and there were no more scores before the end of the half.
Half Time: Liverpool 2 AFCB 1
The second half followed much the same pattern and continued to be a very open and even sided game. This is demonstrated that Liverpool ends with 6 shots on target and AFCB with 4.
One such quick away attack left the Wee Man one on one with the keeper. He brilliantly chipped Adrian and the ball headed towards the goal. However, the spritely Milner managed to get back and scoop the ball way from danger at the last possible moment.
One further chance was to come, late in the game, when another good move resulted in Wilson stood in front of an empty net only to get the ball caught under his feet and the chance went a-begging.
Which brings me to the officiating, again. Somehow that particular move was given offside, which it clearly wasn’t but it summed up the unbelievable bias shown towards the home team. According to Klopp, we got away with a shove on Gomez (it wasn’t) for our goal but van Dijk does that shove every time he goes for the ball but is never penalised. Mane committed THREE bookable offences, one a deliberate handball trying to stop the ball going out of play, all of which resulted in no action. Smith was blatantly bundled into the hoardings at the side of the pitch and the referee gave the home team a throw-in, no action. Wilson was pushed by a Liverpool player into another Liverpool player and was booked. Several Liverpool players had SIX goes at hacking Lerma down from behind before a free-kick was given. Fraser was taken out by the keeper and also pushed two-handed by Milner and no action was taken. (Rant over)
A defeat but a much better result and performance than I had expected before the game. One other thing to mention is the atmosphere at the ground. Legend has it that the atmosphere is the best but yesterday, apart from a couple of outbursts, it was more like a mausoleum.
Full time: Liverpool 2 AFCB 1
Ramsdale 7 Played well again. One excellent punch from a corner. No-fault in the goals (as far as I could see)
Stacey 7 Another solid performance from him. This lad is going to be a fixture in the team for some time to come
Cook S 6 Had played really heroically until his untimely injury
Ake 9 What a player!!!
Smith 7 I know many would prefer Rico at left-back but he is really is solid in that position and I fully support Eddie in picking him there as he is better than Rico.
Lerma 8 Another excellent performance. He worked his socks off through the game harrying, tacking and just getting in the way. A brilliant tactical substitution at the end by Eddie.
Billing 7 Picked up a lot of the high balls. His passing and reactions are sometimes a bit clumsy but all the same, played well. Hope his injury is not too serious.
Cook L 6 Not my favourite player but he certainly put a shift in. However, he let himself down, yet again, with a careless pass which resulted in the second goal
Fraser 7 Is almost back to his old best again. Always a threat going forward and he caused the Liverpool defence a lot of concern.
Stanislas 8 As I said at the beginning I was less than enamoured by his selection but he worked really hard and provided a threat going forward with one shot stinging the keeper’s hands.
Wilson 7 On the scoresheet and more in the game that of late but he is missing a companion to help set the goals up. His blushes were spared at the end when he was, wrongly, flagged offside.
MOM Nathan Ake. What a player! Let’s admire his fantastic talents while we have him. I read yesterday that someone thinks he is the best player we have ever had and I really would not disagree.
One a positive note we were always in the game and the fact that Liverpool were taking the ball into the corner at the end showed that they were worried about what we might do. However, that is another game gone and, albeit, not a game any of us might have expected to get anything from it one less game to climb to safety. Most of the other results went our way although Villa now have two games in hand and are only two points behind. Goal difference could play a big part this year.