IT was a routine win for Liverpool on the south coast, but not as you know it.
Pundits and “experts” may look back on the game as one where Liverpool cruised to an easy victory, without acknowledging the near perfection this Liverpool team are achieving.
In truth, Bournemouth never quite did enough. Their slow start was picked upon by Liverpool’s forwards, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, who both showed their complete superiority over the opposition. When they did start to establish a foothold in the game they left themselves too open again and paid the price.
Eddie Howe’s side looked as though all they had was their shape and the rest they were leaving to the chance that Liverpool made a mistake, but this side no longer live on the footballing tightrope they used to occupy. They now toe a line closer to that of absolute perfection.
All season the question has been asked, “when will it click for this Liverpool side?” But the expectation seemed to be that Liverpool would return to their old selves. A team that could put six past their opposition but operate solely on the basis of being able to overwhelm the opposition with running and goals, that an improved defence would look after itself.
What we’re seeing now is the most mature Liverpool side since the days of Rafa Benitez doing bits away in Europe. Jürgen Klopp deserves complete credit for taking a side that were once merely the most exciting in the league to one of the most mature, winning teams in the league — just behind the team who may well sit below them by the end of today.
The Reds are lucky enough to field some of their most mature heads game in, game out. Today it was James Milner’s versatility, Virgil van Dijk’s complete composure and Alisson Becker’s absolute fearlessness.
The Brazilian’s header in the first half demonstrated the side of Alisson’s game you were worried may have disappeared with his error at Leicester. Except he seems to have banked that bad memory and used it to ensure that when he comes to collect, the chance of failing is zero to none. The epitome of taking ball and man.
As a pairing, van Dijk and his new deputy Joel Matip haven’t had the biggest of tests in the last two games. Both tough aways, granted, but not the kind of stars they’ll likely encounter on Tuesday night under the lights at Anfield — and hopefully several more times in the coming months. Nevertheless, they’ve both shown their strengths. Neither afraid to put their foot on the ball when it is required, or to bring their goalkeeper into the game in an attempt to stretch Bournemouth out and release an attack.
The two who occupied Liverpool’s most attacking positions looked back to their best today. Both Salah and Firmino have had questions asked of them this season, but both made a big impact off the bench in the week and they picked up where they left off. Salah’s hat trick sees him reach 10 league goals in a season we’ve been trying in vain to dampen expectations around him and his goal return. Firmino notched an assist and his best work came from the slightly deeper role we were worried was hampering him this campaign. Both proving us dickheads wrong.
The midfield had a good showing. All four able to pick gaps in Bournemouth’s setup, and all popped up and showed themselves in good areas throughout the game. As mentioned in a piece by our own Karl Coppack on Friday, both Fabinho and Naby Keita are starting to look completely at home in this Liverpool side. Gini Wijnaldum kept things ticking over and held the ball as well as he always does. Xherdan Shaqiri the nuisance who loves to take the legs out of opposition defenders.
So Liverpool go top of the league with Manchester City to face a Chelsea side who appear to be losing grip of what made them look like unlikely title challengers just a few weeks back. The Reds need London’s Blues to find that touch again.
Regardless, Liverpool have done their job again and get to put their feet up while Pep Guardiola’s side attempt to win back top spot. Liverpool have done their job again in a way we’re likely to see more of for the foreseeable future.
Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Cool, calm, collected, mature. Winners.
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— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) December 8, 2018
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Nice write up Josh. You’re also improving!
Yes include me in the dickhead category as I have been too vocal on the negatives instead of focusing on the positives.
Top of the league, GD of 8 now, unbeaten and the players improving game by game.
Just saw the match against Chelsea vs City. Finally we got to see how to take apart this City team.
And I think Chelsea heard you too Josh — “Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Cool, calm, collected, mature. Winners.”
Let’s give it a real go against Napoli. We can do this!
Come on you Reds!!!
What or who was salah giving the stare down to after his goals?
Seems to have been widely missed this or not reported. Definitely makes conscious decision to look back at the bench after the goals.
I think he’s pissed off at being rested. Salah has that Messi/Ronaldo mentality of wanting to score as many goals as possible. Time on the bench is losing potential goals to him.
Could call it good man management by Klopp though. Salah played angry (carried on when fouled) and scored 3 for the team. Everyone wins.
I think you may be seeing something that’s not there.
The second goal, he was looking at the Bournemouth player Cook who had just raked his studs down Salah’s calf. Salah seems to alternate between stare down celebrations and big grin show of passion stuff.
The theory going round is that Nathan Ake pissed him off.
Three minutes in, aerial ball, Josh King does Van Dijk. He has a look while the ball is in the air then “accidentally” swings an arm and smashes Virg in the face. Alisson sees this. That header he couldn’t be arsed to catch at the end of the first-half was him cleaning out King to back up his team-mate. Pure Souness. What a keeper.
That was a 1980s style performance – the sort of thing we used to do week in, week out: Solid defence, busy midfield, clinical attack.
We can do this…
Thankfully Klopp and the team didn’t lose their heads after PSG in the way some of the experts amongst the fanbase did.
This is a very good team. The bar for the winning the title has never been higher. Second would still be massive progress but let’s enjoy the ride and if we can give them an extra 5% chance from the terraces let’s do it. 2 massive games coming up. What a Xmas this already is!
And for the most part certain players came in who didn’t play against PSG and others were rested.
Not sure if the so-called experts you keep mentioning said anything other than tactically we got things wrong and that certain players didn’t play well. That is fact and what was witnessed and not people losing their heads. We were shite on that night and if anything it has seen us raise our performances, which is what we all were asking for.
Seems no one is allowed to comment in your opinion Paul, even if they are discussing one particular game. However you feel you can make a remark regarding others based after a good performance, a performance that saw the inclusion of some players we’ve been asking for…. yeah that’s really losing our heads!
You must have really brooded on all this Paul. The rest of us just enjoyed the last 3 games.
Anyways 2 huge games coming up and the massive performance need to keep being delivered and not the naivety that saw us look poor at PSG. We are actually better than that.
@J Calm down mate. Paul’s only referring to “some of the experts”.
As far as I am concerned, Paul and you both have good points.
Bottom line is we’re still all in it together, as we’re still supporters of LFC despite being knocked off our perch and continued drought in the EPL for over two decades.
It’s not easy being a LFC supporter at times, but it still is one hell of a ride and I am enjoying it more now.
What a team, from top to
bottom, support included. From an Aussie red it’s an absolute pleasure. These early mornings are getting easier for the privilege of watching these lads and everything the Anfield Wrap does Beer anyone
Very good performance all round today. I feared for us when I saw Lee Mason was officiating. He actually did well.
I am glad Salah’s 1st goal stood and he was allowed to play on for the 2nd (Cook should got a yellow straight afterwards for his attempted foul).
Small margins on that 1st goal. We got the rub there as we have at Huddersfield.
I really enjoyed yesterday game and the icing on this was Chelsea beating City.
Football is a game of opinions J. You sound like a passionate Red mate. I didn’t agree with your overall take on the PSG defeat. That’s all.
The last week has shown again what a serious football team and manager we have. A team with a huge amount of fight in it, for sure a few positions still to strengthen but as John Lennon said life is what happens who’s it your making plans. These boys are it for now.
At least we know Man City are human. If they had won yesterday I would have thought this is an impossible mountain to climb.
I had tickets for Bournemouth and had to pass on to mate. Gutted.
Up the Reds!
Hi Paul, I know the feeling of gutted over not being able to go the game. The wife has booked for us to be away next weekend (overseas). Not impressed, especially as it’s overseas Xmas shopping. Some how I have to find a bar, somewhere that has the game on and then try not to get in bother with Man U supporters who may also be in same said bar. Tall order.
Watched the Arsenal game on the continent in a bar full of Arsenal supporters. Was great until they equalised.
This team we currently have are a very good team and I truly feel there is more to come from them.
I too am glad City proved beatable in the PL yesterday. It’s mad how good a start we have had after 16 games and there’s only 1pts between us. Crazy season.
“If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
Was really hoping that Fernandinho did his leg there. To paraphrase Donald Trump, he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and still not get carded. More to the point, City have no one else like him, as vital to their fancy-pants players as Busquets to Barcelona. David Silva will do, though, the magnificent little bastard.
But enough about that money laundering operation. Let’s talk about the only undefeated side in the league. We really are marvelous. Napoli must be cacking themselves to see Salah and Bobby back to their fluid 4-3-3 best. And if Keita actually starts looking anything like the YouTube clips to which we’ve been wanking for more than a year, Lord help all those that stand before us.
Not really paying attention to the line-up, it took me about 8 minutes or so before I realized that Milner hadn’t dropped deep to cover for our right back bombing on. 500 games, hard as nails, witty as Wilde, and holds the record for Champions League assists ahead of your Neymar, Kaka, and Messi ilk (i.e. any footie player that has ever been on some lad’s bedroom poster).
Seriously, though, how high does Alisson reach when he leaps in the air to head that ball? Imagine that quasi-religious image bearing down on you as you chase a ball.
Side note: Lovely job, Josh. The grammar police in me, though, wants to let you know that you “toe the line,” a reference originally to track-and-field. A silly pet peeve, but seeing people write “tow” literally makes my head explode.
If it bleeds you can kill it… Wasn’t that what Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in the Predator said??? – If that’s the case I am all for arming the oppo next time they play City with the type of guns this lot had and asking them to blast away. In truth it wouldn’t be much dissimilar to the assault Burnley made on life and limb at their gaff on us the other night.
As for Napoli and Ancelotti, not sure he ever cacks himself when playing us. Has a fairly decent record against us, despite a CL Cup Final in 2005 and Napoli themselves are a fairly useful outfit, that said they have conceded 14 in 15 games in their own domestic league and lost 2. So you can score against them and they have been beaten. This though is one that is a cup final and we have to turn up and give it our all. My personal hope is we go through as do Napoli and that cry-arse, pathetic, diabolic lot from Paris go into the Europa. That would make me smile if that happened.
Agree J it’s a mad season and only hope it gets madder!