August 17, 2015; 20.00 BST
Liverpool take on newly promoted side AFC Bournemouth in the opening home game of the season. The Reds come into this game with a hard fought and slightly lucky win over Stoke City. Bournemouth will be looking for their first Premier League win at a tough destination, but know that it is not an impossible task given their opponent’s propensity to falter at unexpected occasions.
Team news & Tactical brief
Liverpool will have familiar absentees in Daniel Sturridge and Jon Flanagan. Joe Allen will also be missing from the game with a hamstring problem.
Brendan Rodgers is expected to field almost the same line-up for this game as he did in the opener against Stoke City. This means new signings Nathaniel Clyne, Joe Gomez, James Milner and Christian Benteke will make their home debuts for the club. Roberto Firmino, who recently scored a hat-trick in a closed door friendly is supposed to be in contention to start the game, but might only feature as an early second half substitute.
Dejan Lovren, who is Brendan Rodgers’s preferred defender to partner Martin Skrtel, did well against Stoke City and would be hoping this season is a fresh start for him.
A big problem for Liverpool in the previous game was the midfield and the Jordan Henderson, James Milner double pivot looked extremely ineffective. Once Emre Can was brought in the second half, the Reds began dominating the heart of the pitch. That could be the only change of the game as the German starlet might be brought in at the expense of Adam Lallana who looked sub-par in the last game.
It is going to be a big game for the big Belgian who has all the pressure on his shoulders to deliver. Benteke found it difficult to get going at the Britannia as he failed to boss the game in any way. He would be hoping his first home game provides him with opportunities to show his worth.
Possible starting lineup (4-3-3): Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren Gomez; Can, Henderson, Milner; Lallana, Coutinho; Benteke
This will be Bournemouth’s first ever away Premier League fixture and their rise through to the topmost division has been nothing short of spectacular.
Harry Arter is set to miss out again after struggling with a groin problem while Shaun MacDonald remains a doubt for the game. Highly rated youngster Tyrion Mings could come into the side for this game along with veteran Sylvain Distin, Distin, in fact, should come in to the side ahead of Steve Cook as his experience can offer more for the tough fixture with his height (against Christian Benteke), experience and leadership. New signing Max Gradel might also make his debut in this game.
The Cherries also like to play fast paced football and can look to exploit Liverpool’s apparently weakness – the midfield. The likes of Surman and Gosling should try and dominate the heart of the pitch. It might be a game to introduce Eunan O’Kane, someone who could sit in front of the back-four and stop the likes of Coutinho and Lallana from moving forward, and help out the other midfielders in the transition and taking the game forward quickly. It is of course, unlikely, given the midfielder only played 11 league games for the Cherries last season.
Howe’s side looked composed and confident in their opening game against Aston Villa, but also learnt an important lesson and will hope to eliminate the same profligacy that contributed to their opening defeat.
Possible starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Mings; Surman, Gosling; Ritchie, Tomlin, Gradel;Wilson
- Liverpool have never lost to Bournemouth in six previous cup fixtures (W4 D2). This will be their first league meeting.
- No side won more away games (13) or collected more points away (44) than Bournemouth in the Championship last season.
- Liverpool only attempted four shots (excluding blocked) in their first game against Stoke City – fewer than any other side on MD1.
Player to watch out for
Callum Wilson (AFC Bournemouth)
The striker scored 20 goals for the Cherries last season. Last season we saw Burnley perform well in most games, but they were shown the ruthlessness of the league as their lack of goals meant Sean Dyche’s men couldn’t stay up for another season. For Bournemouth to survive this season, they would need goals which means Wilson needs to deliver and what better place to start than Anfield.
Liverpool 1 Bournemouth 0
Liverpool have plenty of quality in the side but expect to see another scrapy win for the home side.