Liverpool are fortunate to maintain their 100% start to the season as newly-promoted Bournemouth push them close at Anfield…
Kop boss Brendan Rodgers named the same starting eleven and substitutes bench as against Stoke City last weekend.
A bright, open start produced some promising moments for both teams but it was Bournemouth who were surprisingly looking the more threatening.
Eddie Howe’s bold decision to play with two up top looked to have been rewarded when a 5th minute Tommy Elphick header hit the back of the net but referee Craig Pawson harshly chalked it off for a push on Dejan Lovren.
The incident came from a corner but the pace and directness of the likes of Callum Wilson and Max Gradel meant the Cherries were also proving a danger from open play.
Liverpool finally started to dictate proceedings and grow as an attacking force around the 15th minute mark but visiting keeper Artur Boruc initially remained largely untested.
That all changed in the 26th minute though when Christian Benteke marked his home debut with a goal from close range after a pinpoint Jordan Henderson cross.
Bournemouth again had a right to feel hard done by with the goal technically offside according to new rules after Philippe Coutinho made an unsuccessful play for the ball from an offside position.
The strike was the precursor for a period of sustained pressure from the hosts that featured an eye-catching Henderson drive which dipped onto the top of the crossbar.
Coutinho was growing in influence and he almost scored for a second week running only to miss the target with a left footed effort.
There was also the small matter of a decent penalty shout overlooked as Liverpool closed the half in positive fashion.
The visitors regrouped during the interval and again started the second half brightly; Matt Ritchie twice trying his luck unsuccessfully from distance.
Rodgers was forced into an early change after Henderson succumbed to an injury and had to be replaced by Emre Can.
Liverpool almost doubled their lead in the 55th minute after great pressing from Benteke setup a chance for James Milner but the former Manchester City man couldn’t quite direct Jordan Ibe‘s cross goalwards.
A powerful Ritchie effort almost drew the scores level moments afterwards but the impressive Scottish international was denied by the post.
Eunan O’Kane also went close in another encouraging Bournemouth spell before Coutinho had a couple of half chances to effectively make the result safe.
A second was not forthcoming however, despite Benteke thumping the woodwork with a golden opportunity in the final minute, and the Merseysiders were ultimately left hanging on to the three points.
Points win prizes and you don’t get any extra ones for style but this was still a somewhat underwhelming evening for Liverpool. The two big decisions fortunately went their way and that proved to be the difference with Bournemouth more than a match for their prestigious hosts throughout the contest. Of course, like last week, there are positives to be garnered in the way the Reds defended and how some of their big money signings performed but improvements will be needed quickly if a successful season is to lie ahead. Another lacklustre start and leaving Benteke isolated are two of the biggest issues seemingly in need of a remedy.
Nathaniel Clyne – Fellow new boy Benteke will take many of the plaudits but it is Clyne who has arguably been the best capture so far. Everyone knew the ex-Southampton full-back was quick, strong and good going forward but defensively, particular in terms of his awareness and positioning, he has also shone.
Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Gomez, Henderson (c) (Can 52′), Milner, Lallana, Ibe (Firmino 70′), Coutinho (Moreno 81′), Benteke.
Unused subs: Bogdan, Toure, Origi, Ings.
So that’s what we thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your verdict below or vote in our MOTM poll to the right…
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