After opening their Premier League campaign by banishing the memories of last season’s thumping at the hands of Stoke City with a narrow victory at the Britannia Stadium, Liverpool will look to keep their momentum up and the points flowing in when they welcome top-flight virgins AFC Bournemouth to Anfield on Monday.
While the Reds were good for all three-points on the road, the Cherries fell victim to a host of missed chances as Aston Villa substitute Rudy Gestede gave the visitors a lesson in just how important it is to make each and every opportunity count as the Villains condemned the promoted side to their first defeat of the still fledgling campaign. Although boss Eddie Howe remains optimistic about their chances of avoiding the drop, he’s also realistic, pointing out that there’s going to be tougher days just over the horizon — like when they travel to Merseyside in two-days time.
“(Rodgers has) been a role model, really, for me. Someone you look up to and admire. I admired watching his Swansea teams play.When you try and analyse games and analyse systems, and philosophies, he’s certainly someone that I’ve looked at. I respect the way he conducts himself as well,” explained the Cherries boss. “I think he’s now building another Liverpool team, a new Liverpool team, this year, so it’ll be interesting to see how they do,” he mused. “Liverpool are going to be up there competing in the top places in the league, there’s no doubt about that. That’s why it’s going to be one of our toughest games of the season. (It’s) Liverpool’s first home game of the season, making it even more special. For us, we’ve got to make sure we turn up.”
Despite edging their visitors out in the possession stakes, Bournemouth failed to really capitalize when they were on the ball, creating a respectable 9-chances over the 90-minutes, but only putting an abysmal 22% of their shots on net — something they’re going to have to improve if they’re going to avoid a season long relegation scrap. The scrutiny of playing on the big stage week in and week out is something that a lot of these players haven’t experienced during their careers, though the increased expectation is something that defender Simon Francis believes they’ve coped with well thus far.
“It is such a big step and even if the game isn’t shown live, there are still so many cameras there. You can guarantee it is being shown somewhere round the world. You are under the spotlight and there is that added pressure,” the 30-year old told the Daily ECHO following the Villa match. “I thought we handled it well on Saturday. We were lively, pressed high and didn’t give Villa a chance on the ball,” added Francis. “I thought we dominated most of the game with our possession and, if anything, were probably a bit surprised at our tempo and the way we created chances.”
“I am really looking forward to the match, It`s going to be a very tough test but these are the games you work so hard to play in. If you can’t get motivated for Liverpool away, then you shouldn’t be playing football,” enthused the Bournemouth defender. “They obviously pose a huge attacking threat. Every single player they’ve got is world class, so it’s going to be a big game for the whole team. We have to defend from the front and be resolute,” he continued, before adding, “We can definitely take confidence from last Saturday, though. We didn’t look out of place at all so hopefully we can build on that and get a result.”