Brendan Rodgers is keen for Liverpool to continue to build momentum from last week’s success against Stoke City when newly promoted Bournemouth visit Anfield on Monday. A late, spectacular strike from Philippe Coutinho secured Liverpool an opening three points at the Britannia Stadium and a significant boost after a desperately disappointing last season was ended with a 6-1 evisceration at the same venue. It was also a poor start to the campaign from Liverpool last term, and Rodgers has spoken of his determination to avoid a similarly stuttering opening this time around.
“If you can make a good start and find consistency early on, that breeds confidence for you for the remainder of the season,” he said, according to Liverpool’s official website. “That didn’t really kick in for us until October [last season], which is way too late really. So that’s the plan.
“We made a great start last weekend, with good organization throughout the team. We didn’t have too many scares defensively; we obviously didn’t create as much as you would want but ended up winning the game with a clean sheet. It gets you off to a great start and validates a lot of the work that you do over the course of the pre-season. We now move onto the next game and that’s the only thought. If we get a victory against Bournemouth, that again increases the confidence level and the hope for consistency.”
Most impressive last week was the resoluteness of a Liverpool defense that has previously looked so often on the verge of farcical mishaps. And, with Rodgers hailing their performance, he seems set to keep faith with a combination of new signings Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez at full-back either side of center-backs Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel.
Further forward, Rodgers is likely to have greater selection headaches. Emre Can and recent arrival Roberto Firmino both made positive impacts when coming off the bench against Stoke and are pressuring for a starting place, with Adam Lallana seemingly most under threat of dropping out.
Bournemouth will be heading to Anfield still looking to claim their first ever points in England’s top flight. After their fairytale promotion from the Championship last year, Eddie Howe’s men began life in the Premier League with a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa. And, while for the small club from England’s south coast a visit to one of England’s most famous grounds on Monday represents a memorable occasion, for Howe it is all about getting points to help ensure that their time in the top flight is not short lived.
“We’re going to Liverpool to be professional and do a job,” he said, reports Bournemouth’s official website. “It’s no different to any other league game that we’ve played in the last three years. Obviously for the supporters these experiences are different and I hope that they travel in their numbers, as they always do, and make the most of it. Hopefully we can win the game for them.”
Howe will again have to do without Harry Arter and Chelsea loanee Christian Atsu, but could hand a debut to summer signing Tyrone Mings. Liverpool, meanwhile, will again be missing Daniel Sturridge, Jon Flanagan and Joe Allen.
Kickoff time: 3 p.m. EDT
TV channel: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra