by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has called for focus on his side’s strengths, and admitted that this weekend’s game with Liverpool’s ‘formidable outfit’ will be difficult.
The Cherries host Jurgen Klopp’s team on Sunday after being unfortunate to leave Old Trafford empty-handed after the mid-week clash with Manchester United. Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game, although it was Howe’s men who created the better chances with both Charlie Daniels and Jermain Defoe forcing David de Gea into action.
Howe reflected on the performance against Jose Mourinho’s side in his pre-match press conference this morning: “In Wednesday’s performance we were good in a lot of the game. I’ve been pleased with the majority of performances recently, we’ve not had the rewards but then that’s the game.
“I felt we deserved something in our last game, we had a real threat but it wasn’t to be.”
This weekend’s opponents are Liverpool, who are a point adrift from a Champions League spot but have been free-scoring under Jurgen Klopp this season. Howe spoke about the tactical traits the two managers share: “Our first thought is always to be positive, take the game to the opposition and to be brave in all aspects of our play. I don’t think we should change from that, we have tried the other way and it doesn’t suit us.
“There is a trade off sometimes and you have to try and find the balance.”
The former Borussia Dortmund manager has an array of attacking talent to field at the Vitality Stadium, with in-form Mohamed Salah currently leading the Premier League scoring chart. The likes of Phillipe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have also grabbed a handful of goals this season, although Howe admitted that the Cherries’ opponents have quality in every position.
“The personnel may be different, but the quality doesn’t change much, they have quality to come in in every position.” Howe said. “We know what sort of team we’re up against and the challenge is to stop them.
“Salah has been excellent this season, but it’s not just him, that’s the problem when you play these teams. We need to make sure our structure is good, our plan is good and also look at how we can take them on and focus on our strengths.”
This fixture last season saw Bournemouth come back against all the odds to win 4-3, with Nathan Ake pouncing on a goalkeeping error to seal the three points deep into stoppage time. The Cherries manager reflected on that game, and said that he wanted to see a similar performance on Sunday: “We have good memories from last year, from both games. We competed in both and the game here will live long in the memory for the character shown by the players.
“The last 20 minutes is what I was looking for, the atmosphere in the stadium and the resolve from the players was excellent. To get four points from them last year was good but they’re a different team this year and will be extremely tough on Sunday.”
Howe also told the media that Tyrone Mings has suffered an injury setback, and will now see a specialist for his recovery. The former Ipswich defender hasn’t played for the Cherries since September, and the club will wait for a second specialist’s opinion before deciding the next course of action.
Bournemouth have no fresh injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s game, although Howe admitted some players may be feeling the fatigue during the busy Christmas run of games: “We have a tough run of fixtures and we’re still in the Carabao Cup, so the key is we have to make sure everyone can play at their best levels.
“We’re pretty much as we were, we have no fresh concerns but on Wednesday we had a late return after a string of tough away games.
“So I want the players to be fresh enough to perform, I will speak to the players concerned and see how they feel.”
Kick off at the Vitality Stadium is 4:30pm.