14th March 2023

AFC Bournemouth 1-0 Liverpool – Yet ANOTHER false dawn

Different times
Liverpool vs Bournemouth, 7 March 2020 – the final domestic fixture at Anfield before the Premier League was suspended due to Covid-19

Mo Salah misses penalty after Philip Billing scores the only goal.

Six days earlier, Liverpool scored seven without reply against the enemy, Manchester United, inflicting their joint-heaviest defeat, their most recent since 1931.

Ostensibly, last place Cherries were the perfect next opposition. The Reds’ joint-record league 9-0 victory arrived in the reverse fixture.

Conversely, Liverpool had neither won an early kick-off nor defeated a promoted club away, this season.

Jürgen Klopp rested Jordan Henderson, but should have started him in lieu of Harvey Elliott. I feared complacency.

Nearly the dream start. Trent Alexander-Arnold delivered a pinpoint corner. Virgil van Dijk headed towards the top left corner, but Jefferson Lerma diverted the ball off the line. Goal-saving clearance.

Alexander-Arnold then inadvertently turned provider for the hosts. His cross-field ball was intercepted by former Red Dominic Solanke who released Dango Ouattara. He rounded Alisson, but his touch was too heavy, so he could only hit the side netting. He must score. Quality conspicuous by its absence.  

Unscathed, van Dijk detected birthday boy Andy Robertson with a lofted pass. He had teammates across the six-yard box but fired straight at Neto. Robertson, so often unselfish, decided incorrectly.

Bournemouth marginally punished The Reds’ high line. Konaté stepped forward too slowly. Ouattara eased past van Dijk, then assisted Billing who converted. Van Dijk too casual. 1-0, Bournemouth.

van Dijk should have atoned. He failed to connect with a Robertson inswinger free kick. Reminiscent of Nottingham Forest away on which day he should have completed a hat-trick.

It worsened as he wrestled with Solanke, then Konaté mistimed his challenge on Billing outside the 18-yard area. Shambolic defending. Referee John Brooks allowed play to continue.

Elliott was hooked at the interval with Diogo Jota introduced into a 4-2-4.

Immediately, he drove forward. His finesse shot produced a routine save from Neto.

Urgently, Klopp made a triple substitution. Of the three, James Milner should have had the desired effect.

Jota headed towards goal, but Adam Smith blocked with his hand in an unnatural position. Brooks signalled to the spot after a VAR review. It was abundantly clear live. The Reds’ first league penalty for 343 days.

Salah assumed responsibility as designated taker, but he had been on the periphery. Milner should have taken the penalty, just as he did a minute into a substitute appearance away to Leicester City on Boxing Day, 2019. Coolness personified. The “being substituted on to take a penalty cold off the bench” is irrelevant.

Ominously, the camera fixated on the watching Klopp. Salah bent his run-up, sent the ‘keeper the wrong way, but missed the top left corner. Inexplicable.

Klopp later remarked, “If you score there… it does not make the performance better, but it could change the result”.

Fábio Carvalho was readied, shivering with his sleeves covering his hands. Too little, too late. Amatuer.

Alisson launched a long ball which Lloyd Kelly let bounce, but Cody Gakpo fired over on the half-volley.


I refuse to let “football” ruin my weekends anymore.