After the euphoric scenes that greeted their amazing Europa League quarter-final victory on Thursday, Liverpool now resume their domestic duties with a visit to a Bournemouth side that got back to winning ways last time out.
Having suffered heavy defeats in successive games against Tottenham and Manchester City, a trip to rock-bottom Aston Villa was the perfect tonic for Bournemouth, whose superiority in all departments was evident from the start. The win they earned lifted them up to 11th place, which emphasises just how well they have adapted to the Premier League, especially given it is the first top-flight season in the club’s history and many of players were turning out in the third tier just three years ago.
Defensively the Cherries have their good days and bad days, but Steve Cook has been a lynchpin at the heart of their back four all season and has chipped in with a couple of goals at the other end. His influence and physical strength will lead to an interesting battle with in-form striker Divock Origi, who has outmuscled many a central defender in recent weeks. With fatigue also a potential factor as far as the visitors are concerned, Eddie Howe’s men may sense a chance of achieving another memorable result.
It was truly breathtaking to see Liverpool overhaul a seemingly unassailable deficit against a very strong Borussia Dortmund side, with both central defenders scoring massive goals to send their team through to the semi-finals of the Europa League before a jubilant and slightly disbelieving Anfield. The Europa League is now clearly the number one priority, but manager Jurgen Klopp will not let league form fade away, as proved by their impressive win over Stoke City last weekend.
Origi came off the bench to net a brace in that encounter, and has suddenly emerged as a top performer for the Reds. He was the best player on the field in both legs against Dortmund and is surely giving fellow striker Daniel Sturridge plenty to think about, if there is only room for one forward in Klopp’s starting XI. That is not to say that Sturridge is losing his way. The England man is looking sharp again and may produce a strong contribution here.
Bournemouth trio Benik Afobe, Harry Arter and Adam Smith are all still absent, but they are boosted by the return of Junior Stanislas from a hamstring injury.
Emre Can is serving a suspension for Liverpool, who have doubts over the fitness of striker Christian Benteke.