Bournemouth 1 Liverpool 3: Three talking points
Three talking points as Liverpool set up a League Cup semi-final against Chelsea
A change in tactics and emphasis from Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers briefly used the 3-5-2 formation at the beginning of last season, but it was phased out in favour of the diamond formation. Against Manchester United, Liverpool reverted to a three at the back and did the same against Bournemouth today. But the key difference is that they have played with a ‘false nine,’ rather than with genuine number nines. Rodgers has wanted to instil some creativity back into his team again as they have struggled to score goals. To a certain extent, the tactics worked against United, but they were incredibly wasteful in front of goal. Had Raheem Sterling have been more clinical, Liverpool could have won that game. Sterling operated in a similar position today against Bournemouth. Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana added some creativity while Lazar Markovic provided the penetration. The plan worked as the Reds ran riot in the first-half. Bournemouth just could not deal with their variety as the attacking triumvirate continued to interchange positions. It was a bold move from Rodgers, but one that worked and could potentially be a template for Liverpool moving forward.
Markovic finally starting to show why Liverpool paid £20m for him
It has been difficult for Markovic since he moved from Benfica during the summer. He is only 20, but huge things were expected of him considering the price the Reds paid for his services. He has shown glimpses of form making the occasional mazy run, but far too often this season he has seemed lightweight. Despite being in promising positions, he has either made the wrong decision, or has allowed the opposing defender to control the situation. Today’s game showed a different side to the Serbian. He was full of energy, but he also demonstrated an end product. His role in the opening goal was vital as he showed great vision to switch the ball out to Jordan Henderson. The goal he scored was another moment of inspiration. After Lallana’s initial work, the ball kindly ricocheted to him and his first time strike was emphatic. This is the sort of thing Liverpool fans will want to see more of. The talent is obvious, but he will have to find a way of playing with more consistency. If he does that, Rodgers is likely to start playing him more regularly.
Despite the loss, the Cherries’ focus will be on the Championship where they are playing well
Since Eddie Howe returned back to Bournemouth in 2012, they have been on an upward trajectory. When he took over as manager, the Cherries were languishing in the relegation zone. There was a lack of confidence, and many of the players at the time felt as if the league was too big for them. However, Howe has changed all that despite operating on a tight budget. Currently, the Cherries find themselves top of the Sky Bet Championship. Howe has also got his tactics spot on. What Bournemouth lack in star names, they make up for in a good team ethic. What has been noticeable about their play this season is how successful they have been in wide areas. This has been mainly down to their full-backs and Simon Francis has been particularly impressive. He caused Liverpool quite a few problems as they were operating with three at the back. Two of his cut-backs could have led to goals but Callum Wilson and Yann Kermorgant were both guilty of wasting easy chances. Defensively, the Cherries were a little naive allowing Liverpool far too much space. But that was expected against Premier League opposition.