Little over a week ago, Liverpool supporters were starting to get giddy. Manchester City had surprisingly lost at Newcastle, giving the Reds a four point advantage and a game in hand. Eight days later and the latter remains, but their lead has been worn away.
Fortunately for Jürgen Klopp and his team, a home match with Bournemouth represents an excellent opportunity to secure three points. The Cherries have lost their last seven away games in a row, which is the longest current streak of defeats on the road in any of Europe’s top five leagues. Only one team has had a longer run of away day blues at any point in 2018/19 too. Liverpool might like a visit from SD Huesca, but Bournemouth will do for now.
But all bad runs must end eventually. Can Bournemouth take advantage of Liverpool’s relatively poor form, and play on what might become a very nervous Anfield? There hasn’t been anything in the Cherries’ stats from their dreadful away run to suggest they might.
The underlying shot numbers imply that Eddie Howe’s side were deservedly beaten in six of the seven matches, with only their trip to Goodison Park – which they lost 2-0 – one where they could lay claim to a point for their efforts.
It’s not that they’ve conceded loads of shots to their opponents; their average of 12.6 per match in this run is decent enough, and only six sides have conceded fewer per game on the road in the Premier League this season.
But the quality of chance has been a definite problem. Bournemouth’s hosts for their last seven matches have collectively averaged 3.4 big chances against them. Roughly 15 percent of shots are classified by Opta as clear-cut opportunities, yet for these matches the Cherries’ opponents’ figure has been 27.
Mohamed Salah should be licking his lips. Bournemouth fans won’t need reminding that he scored a hat-trick when the sides last met. Our algorithm awarded him over 4,000 points that day, which is a benchmark that is rarely met.
He may not have scored against Leicester in the Reds’ last match at Anfield, but his record on home turf remains better than a goal every 90 minutes. With Sadio Mané having scored in his last three matches and Roberto Firmino having five goals in his last six starts, there’s plenty for the Cherries’ defence to be concerned about.
Liverpool’s main worry will probably be on their right side, where stand-in right-back James Milner will have to contend with Ryan Fraser. The Scot has created 17 clear-cut chances already this season, which is the most in the division.
Fraser may be aiming to find Dominic Solanke, the former Red who could start in the absence of Callum Wilson. Solanke’s dashboard from last season illustrates he’s very capable of being in the right place to pick up high value shots, though his record of just one goal was underwhelming.
Bournemouth have had an odd season. After 10 games they had 20 points, were sixth in the table, and just two points outside the top four. Ten defeats from their next 15 matches has only seen them slip to tenth, but they’re closer to 17th than sixth in terms of points. Despite all that, they’ve taken just one point fewer than they did from the corresponding fixtures in 2017/18, so it’s arguably the order of their matches which has contributed to a rollercoaster feel.
Speaking of corresponding fixtures, Liverpool won this one 3-0 last term, and expected goal data is predicting the same outcome here. The Reds and their fans will be delighted with any win by any score though.