Liverpool fan Tommy Elphick led his Bournemouth team out to deafening noise from the Anfield faithful in hope of a huge but unexpected win. The match consisted of a high tempo from the outset with the game being surprisingly open; Bournemouth started the brightest as their players looked extremely hungry beating The Reds to every second ball.
Just 4 minutes in Elphick had a goal controversially disallowed from a corner when he was judged to have grappled Dejan Lovren in order to head the ball home, Craig Pawson had an extremely good view of the incident deeming it a foul however replays showed it was soft and rather harsh to penalise Elphick with a foul. Liverpool’s quick, free-flowing football looked dangerous as they grew in confidence throughout the first half, The Cherries’ defence remained stubborn and solid preventing any penetration from the Liverpool front line. Jordan Henderson & James Milner comfortably controlled the centre of midfield finding Coutinho wherever possible, no surprise judging by how talented the little Brazilian is.
Liverpool conducted a very intelligent corner technique 25 minutes in seeing Henderson and Clyne exchanging passes before the ball was whipped in for an expecting Benteke, he slotted home putting home side 1-0 up but also opening up his account for the season. Despite Benteke being clearly onside his Brazilian counterpart Coutinho who made a clear attempt to play the ball was not, considering the new changes to the offside rule he should have been flagged offside but the linesman’s flag remained stationary.
As we approached the half time interval Liverpool could easily have been 2-0 up as a misplaced pass from Coutinho found its way back to him, but a shot from his weaker foot flew just past Artur Boruc’s right hand post. Apart from Bournemouth’s dangerous opening 20 minutes they offered little attacking prowess since Benteke’s opener; Liverpool continuously improved throughout the first half dominating in midfield resulting in the tempo being killed that Bournemouth were relying on, the teams entered the break at 1-0.
The second half resumed with a revitalised Bournemouth recreating the high tempo resulting in end to end action for the first 10 minutes. Unfortunately for Liverpool Jordan Henderson had a precautionary injury scare resulting in him being replaced by Emre Can, Henderson had performed impressively up to that point contributing an assist, complete solidity in the middle and setting up effective counter attacks where possible.
The game fell rather flat possibly due to Emre Can intervening with his more defensive nature preventing Bournemouth from being effective through the middle, they began to rely solely on their wingers and Ritchie did come close as he rifled an effort in from 20 yards just grazing Mignolet’s post. Bournemouth continued to press forward with Ritchie looking ever threatening, as the 70th minute beckoned Liverpool had a swift counter attack seeing Benteke fizz the ball over to Coutinho whose shot was cleverly blocked by Charlie Daniels.
Bournemouth continuously attempted to press forward but lacked end product in the final third, it felt like one of their many corners was the likely method if a goal was to come. As the game approached the 90th minute mark Liverpool raced away presenting Benteke with a simple chance to double his goal tally, however he squandered the chance only managing to strike the crossbar from 12 yards out.
The final whistle sounded giving Liverpool their second 1-0 win of the current campaign, Brendan Rodgers will be pleased with how well organised his team remained in the duration of the game. Bournemouth will feel slightly disheartened, despite their persistence going forward no clear cut chances really fell to them but the way they equipped themselves resulted in a very impressive performance and they will leave Anfield full of pride in the manner they played.
Man of the Match – James Milner
If Jordan Henderson would have remained on the pitch I have no doubts he would have obtained the award; however Milner was just as solid rarely putting a foot wrong all game, he initiated counter-attacks linking up effectively with Coutinho dissecting Bournemouth’s midfield. Honourable mentions should be given to Joe Gomez who was extremely impressive in his ability to read the game and Charlie Daniels for Bournemouth who was outstanding in defence but also when going forward.