Bournemouth vs Liverpool sees this season’s surprise package host Manchester City’s main title challengers. I foolishly predicted that the Cherries would struggle this season, so it should surprise nobody that they’re flying.
However, appearances can be deceptive. Despite their fine start to 2018/19, Eddie Howe’s side have actually taken three points fewer than they won in the corresponding fixtures last season. Has their impressive start been borne out of a relatively kind fixture list?
Bournemouth fans will answer “so what if it has?”, and there’s nothing wrong with that. With Liverpool heading to town, though, the Cherries’ record of 16 defeats from their last 18 matches against the big six sides has to be of some concern.
Things are never that straight forward though. Liverpool may be exhausted from their exertions at Turf Moor on Wednesday night, having played the day after Bournemouth defeated Huddersfield, and will be distracted by thoughts of their must-win match with Napoli on Tuesday. It’s a punishing schedule, though at least none of Klopp’s first choice front three played more than half an hour at Burnley.
The home side have two players in red hot form whom they can call upon. Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson each assisted a goal for each other in the 2-1 win over the Terriers earlier this week. In total, each has set up a goal for the other three times in 2018/19, which is the joint-most of any combination in the Premier League.
Wilson is in arguably the form of his career, with seven goals and two assists for club and country in his last 10 appearances.
As for Fraser, he’s the Premier League’s top creative talent in 2018/19. He is over one goal clear in Understat’s expected assists table, thanks in no small part to the 15 clear-cut chances he has created. To give that figure some context, only seven players set up more golden opportunities than that in the whole of last season, and only one – Kevn de Bruyne, obviously – set up more than 18.
Trent Alexander-Arnold will need to be at his best to shackle the young Scot. Fraser isn’t afraid to put in a shift defensively either, which will certainly be required against Liverpool.
Three of his seven assists this season have come from set-pieces. Where that was once an area of severe weakness for the Reds, they go into the weekend with the joint-best record in the top flight, having conceded just twice from dead ball situations in 2018/19.
Liverpool may need to be more wary of being hit on the counter; only three teams have had more shots following fast breaks than the Cherries, with Leicester the sole side who have scored more times from them. However, Liverpool are one of the sides with more shots, so it could be end-to-end stuff on Saturday.
Main men match up well in Bournemouth vs Liverpool
When looking at Bournemouth and Liverpool through the prism of Twelve’s algorithm, it’s interesting to see that both sides have a key man at each end of the pitch who has performed almost equally well. Here’s the top four players from across the two clubs.
Assuming all are selected, the outcome of these two battles may determine who comes away with the points on Saturday. Expected goal data favours Liverpool, yet it also suggests 1-1 is the second most likely score-line, just 0.2% off being the predicted score. This is going to be close.