Bournemouth Game Is No Walk In The Park

Having been dumped out of Europe’s prestigious UEFA Champions League and a possible title race in the Barclays Premier League (literally), a diffident Liverpool side are now facing a tricky fixture heading into the Goldsands Stadium in the Capital One Cup against a very much in-form Championship team.

AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC have both experienced mixed fortunes in their respective leagues thus far. With the Reds languishing down in a disappointing and queer 11th spot in England’s top division, AFC Bournemouth are flying ridiculously high in the Championship as league leaders following their 5-3 victory in a thriller against a stubborn Cardiff City side. With more to add to the difficulties of this fixture, the win over Cardiff City during the weekend meant that Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are now undefeated in 12 consecutive matches in all competitions, now that is some heck of a run to say the least!

Brendan Rodgers

Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers being as cool as a cucumber was heard saying this in an interview,

We know the challenges that are here, the pressures that are here could be unrivalled, but we are relaxed and focused on our work.

Rodgers might still be calmed and relaxed as he claims he is, but many Liverpool supporters may have to act otherwise. After the 3-0 thumping at Old Trafford at the hands of the club’s most rancorous rivals, perhaps the panic button is now just waiting to be hit.

How Liverpool FC might line up against AFC Bournemouth:

Goalkeeper:

Brad Jones is expected to retain his place at the goalkeeping position by getting the nod over Simon Mignolet in this match, well at the least most Liverpool fans would expect so considering the dip of form the Belgian international has suffered over the course of the season. Plus, that spectacular save we all witnessed from Brad Jones when he acrobatically tipped Robin Van Persie’s goal-bound effort over the crossbar in the second half proved that the ex-Middlesbrough stopper still has some excellence left in his locker.

Defenders:

Despite Dejan Lovren’s disastrous performances in recent games, the return of Mamadou Sakho has sparked some light over a dimming Liverpool defense. Put Lovren aside, a returning Sakho pairing up with the in-form Kolo Toure will be able to, at the very least, frustrate the free-scoring Bournemouth attack which has managed 44 goals in 21 league games. Talk about no walk in the park, Bournemouth has opened the scoring in every single home game the team has had against their helpless opponents this season. Javi Manquillo is expected to come in for the injured  Glen Johnson in the right-back role whilst Jose Enrique is tipped to be employed at left-back as he continues to rediscover his form.

John Flanagan

To those who are still wondering where the hell John Flanagan is, the 21-year-old is still sidelined after undergoing surgery on his left knee back in September.

Midfielders: 

Keeping an eye on the upcoming Premier League fixture against Arsenal, Brendan Rodgers could see no better chance than this to rest skipper Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool manager could be opting to field Brazilian enforcer Lucas Leiva to replace Gerrard in the starting lineup, allowing the tireless Jordan Henderson to take over the captain’s armband yet again.

Emre Can will be hoping to be given another chance to establish himself as a top notch defensive midfielder. Moving forward, the advanced midfield area should feature Jordan Henderson on the right and Lazar Markovic on the left. Joining the duo through the middle will most likely be a Bournemouth academy graduate, Adam Lallana.

Lallana

Striker:

Starting Raheem Sterling as the lone striker yet again would not be the best of ideas. Despite boasting three goals in the Premier League this season, Sterling’s finishing against Manchester United showed that the 19-year-old isn’t the best Liverpool can do in this position. Rickie Lambert is expected to be deployed as the lone striker against a Bournemouth side that is reportedly vulnerable when it comes to aerial battles.

And let’s admit it, we all want to see a little bit of Fabio Borini at any point of the match. Facing the fact that he is least likely to start over Rickie Lambert, the Italian international could step into the pitch during second half to terrorize the tiring legs of the opposition defense with his quick pace.

Liverpool

Is this how you would want your Liverpool starting eleven to look like against Bournemouth? Give us your opinions at the comment section below!

Oh, and let me say something on behalf of all Liverpool fans – Any sort of cameo that features Jordan Rossiter will be deeply appreciated.

And does anyone remember Dan Gosling?

Yes, that Dan Gosling dude that once played for crosstown rivals Everton and scored that crazy winning goal in the 118th minute deep into extra time during the Merseyside derby encounter in the 2009 FA Cup fourth round.  That late winner went on to become Everton’s ‘Goal of the Season’ that year.

Guess what? Dan Gosling is well and ready to take on Liverpool yet again, but in an AFC Bournemouth outfit this time round! Imagine the amount of gnashing of teeth and banging of heads between the Liverpool fans if this guy happens to do something similar to what he did more than 5 years ago.

We’ve Been Here Before

Somehow it almost feels like Deja Vu, like something that we’ve experienced before. After a season of narrowly missing out on that Premier League crown, Liverpool FC are yet again in that, yes, the phrase you hate, transition phase.

This season has always been billed as the most difficult season of Brendan Rodgers’ career. From losing Suarez, to how he will man manage good old Mario Balotelli, as well as Steven Gerrard’s transition into what many consider that final phase of his career.

We lie in that mid-table dogfight at the moment, and whilst it is not the ideal place to bit come Christmas, we have to accept that we don’t have the caliber of players to put a strong challenge forward for that Champions League place. Our defence has, quite shockingly, been saved its blushes by Kolo Toure of late (which says a lot of our defending this season), whilst in midfield we aren’t providing quality service for our attackers to finish off. In addition, there’s been that big stumbling block which is Daniel Sturridge’s fitness. Essentially, there has been problems all over the pitch this season, and I can see why the argument against giving Brendan Rodgers is being made.

But doesn’t this ring a bell? What do Brendan Rodgers and Kenny Dalglish’s signings have in common (let’s ignore Luis Suarez for this debate)? They’ve all struggled to deliver. Even Jordan Henderson initially struggled to adapt in Liverpool together with the likes of Andy Carroll & Stewart Downing. This is pretty similar to what has happened with Rodgers signings as well, with Dejan Lovren seeming to be have an internal crisis of sorts, whilst Mignolet has been mediocre at best. Personally, I feel Lovren and Mignolet have the ability to be absolutely top class players. I was personally a big fan of Lovren in his time at Southampton and thought signing him (even at 20 million pounds) was a pretty good steal considering Daniel Agger’s declining minutes.

But I feel at least it is quite clear to see why Liverpool are struggling at the moment. I feel they’re controlling the tempo of the game, limiting opponents to a very limited amount of chances, whilst making a number for themselves. However, whenever opponents do go forward, they come forward with a greater threat. They are well aware of the confidence crisis at the back not only among the defenders, but among the goalkeepers as well.

Liverpool had the jabs, but Manchester United had the knockout punches

Gary Neville, after Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Liverpool

This, I feel has been the problem all season so far. Personally, I feel it goes back to Liverpool’s coaching staff, and what they’re doing with the goalkeepers. There was an analysis which I saw a year or two ago about Pepe Reina’s numbers and what drew my attention was Liverpool’s goalkeeping coach remains to be John Achterberg. This, despite reports suggesting that he had left the post at roughly the same time as Damien Comolli. I think its something that Liverpool need to assess and see whether it can improve, because, quite frankly, Brad Jones display against Manchester United, as well as Mignolet’s performances have been dismal at best.

There’s been two very different arguments as to whether Brendan Rodgers should stay on as Liverpool FC manager. One saying that Luis Suarez & Daniel Agger were the men behind his success, whilst the other end of the stick saying that he was the man behind our success last season, so we should give him more time. My personal point of view? I honestly think he is still the best (available) man for the job at present. I still feel that this team plays very well with regard to pressing, keeping the ball, and it is fairly obvious where our problems lie. I think they are problems that, although time consuming, are pretty small going forward, and hence still think that Brendan Rodgers should continue in the Liverpool FC dugout.

But the best Liverpool can hope for is that Daniel Sturridge can return and be that messiah which Liverpool fans are pining for right now, because I don’t have confidence in any single one of our fit strikers at the moment of leading the line. (Pepe Reina, oh how I miss you)

Opinions & All That Jazz