Liverpool vs Bournemouth preview: Jurgen Klopp says 'exciting' title race will go the distance
Last Updated: 09/02/19 7:56am
Jurgen Klopp says the title race is "getting exciting" as his Liverpool side look to retake top spot this weekend.
The Reds host Bournemouth in increasing need of a return to victory after dropping points in consecutive games against Leicester and West Ham, and seeing Manchester City knock them off the top of the table for the first time in nearly two months.
But Klopp refuted any worries about sitting second ahead of this weekend's game and said he expected the title race to go to the wire.
He said: "Oh, it's obvious that it's getting exciting now. So it was never a doubt that it will happen. So it was always clear. I don't think that anybody thought that we will be top of the league with 12 points between us and another team and three games to go, or something like, that would be the end of April or something like that.
"That was always clear that it will be tight until the end. The good news is still that we are in that but, of course, the only chance to improve our position, even though it's a good position, is by winning football games and we have another chance on Saturday.
"It's a very tough game, again, against a really good side but that's the plan actually."
Bournemouth have never won at Anfield but this has already been a season defying the odds for Bournemouth, and their 33-point tally is their best Premier League return at this stage of the season.
Just three wins on the road have hampered their hopes for a top-seven finish, after occupying that position for several matches earlier in the campaign, but Eddie Howe is still optimistic of causing an upset at Anfield.
"These challenges have always faced us before and we tend to look at it as writing new history for the club," said Howe.
"Winning at Anfield is something we would love to do. No team has done it for a long period of time in the Premier League which goes to show how consistent Liverpool have been.
"The Chelsea result was where everything came together, and there have been other games where we have performed really well and just missed out.
"We want to put our last defeat at Cardiff to bed and really perform for our away fans."
Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is set to return to face Bournemouth after missing three matches with a knee injury.
Midfielders Jordan Henderson (muscle) and Georginio Wijnaldum (knee) have returned to training after both missed Monday's 1-1 draw with West Ham.
However, centre-back Dejan Lovren (hamstring) is still out.
Jefferson Lerma is an injury doubt for Bournemouth's match against Liverpool. The midfielder, who has been nursing an ankle problem in recent weeks, will undergo a late fitness test ahead of the trip to Anfield.
Callum Wilson (knee) and David Brooks (ankle) remained sidelined.
- This will be the 15th meeting between Liverpool and Bournemouth in all competitions, with the Reds losing only once in the process (W10 D3).
- Bournemouth's only previous victory against Liverpool in their history came in the Premier League in December 2016, winning 4-3 at the Vitality Stadium.
- Liverpool have won five and drawn one of their six home matches against Bournemouth in all competitions, keeping three clean sheets.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 33 Premier League home games, winning 23 and drawing 10. They drew their last league game at Anfield, but haven't failed to win two in a row there since December 2017 (3).
- Despite opening the scoring in their last two Premier League games, Liverpool have ended up drawing them both. They've never scored first and failed to win in three consecutive games in the competition before.
- Bournemouth have lost each of their last seven away Premier League games, conceding at least two goals each time. The last team to lose eight in a row on the road were Crystal Palace (8 in November 2017), while the last to do so while conceding at least twice were Portsmouth in February 2006.
- Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has scored five goals in three Premier League appearances against Bournemouth, including netting a hat-trick in the reverse fixture this season.
- Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino has had a hand in six goals in six Premier League starts against Bournemouth (3 goals, 3 assists).
- Liverpool's Sadio Mane has scored in each of his last three appearances in the Premier League - he's never scored in four consecutive matches within the same season in the competition before.
- Bournemouth's Josh King has scored three goals in his last three Premier League games, as many as he had in his previous 14 in the competition.
Bournemouth are poor away from home and I see Liverpool winning this game, but it is also a dangerous game for them the way the visitors play. They are a little bit like Crystal Palace, they will hit you on the break and are quick, and Liverpool struggle with that. And with all the nerves that are going on now, the first 20 minutes will be very, very important. So, a big game…
MERSE PREDICTS: 2-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)