Liverpool beat Bournemouth 4-0 on Sunday to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table to five points.
FT: Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool
— Squawka Live (@Squawka_Live) January 21, 2024
Prior to kick-off, only five points separated the top five in what has become an incredibly close title race, so the Reds knew just how important a result was on the south coast against an in-form Cherries side. Any urgency in finding an opening, however, was not on show in the first half, as Liverpool registered just four shots and 0.09 Expected Goals to Bournemouth’s three and 0.13, respectively.
Problems needed solving, especially in the absence of talisman Mohamed Salah, who is currently on duty with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, nursing a hamstring injury sustained at the tournament.
Sky Bet Offer: Bet £10, get £40 in free accumulator bets
Looking for some free bets to boost your betting fund? Sky Bet are offering customers the chance to get £40 in free accumulator bets when they sign up and place a £10 bet.
- Sign up at Sky Bet using this link
- Place a £10 bet on a single or each way bet at odds of 1/1 or greater, as your first bet
- Claim your £40 accumulator bonus
18+ NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY. FIRST SINGLE & E/W BET ONLY ODDS OF 1/1 OR GREATER. 4 X £10 BET TOKENS. FREE BET STAKES NOT INCLUDED IN RETURNS. FREE BETS ONLY REDEEMABLE ON FOOTBALL ACCUMULATOR MARKETS. FREE BETS ARE NON WITHDRAWABLE. FREE BETS EXPIRE AFTER 30 DAYS. ELIGIBILITY RESTRICTIONS AND FURTHER T&CS APPLY.
Whatever solutions to those problems Jurgen Klopp came up with at half-time worked a treat as it took only four minutes for Liverpool to break the deadlock after emerging from the break. The source of their salvation was, perhaps, an unexpected one, as Darwin Nunez showed all the composure he’s lacked in recent months to guide a Diogo Jota pass into the bottom corner at the first time of asking.
It was a much-needed goal for Nunez, with this just his second strike in his last 16 Liverpool appearances across all competitions. It was worth waiting for, though, as the Uruguayan hit the landmark of 100 senior goals for club and country.
Darwin Núñez has now scored 100 goals for club and country across his senior career:
◎ Benfica: ⚽48
◉ Liverpool: ⚽24
◎ UD Almería: ⚽16
◎ Uruguay: ⚽8
◎ CA Peñarol: ⚽4
Captain Chaos reaches a century. 💯 pic.twitter.com/i0M8GwYw3P
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 21, 2024
If scoring has been a difficult task for Nunez in recent times, setting his teammates up has come easy. With the game still very much in the balance in the 70th minute, Nunez bullied his way through the Bournemouth defence to allow Cody Gakpo the space to set up Jota, who fired home to make it 2-0 and put the game out of sight. It wasn’t a direct assist for Nunez — who has registered 10 of those across all competitions this season — but it was still another vital contribution.
No Salah, no problem
Jota wasn’t done there either, of course, capping off a wonderful individual display by smashing home another goal inside the box, even after miss-hitting the original delivery from right-back Conor Bradley. The Portugal international still remains unbeaten in Premier League games he’s scored in, doing so now in 43 matches.
Diogo Jota has never lost a Premier League game that he’s scored in:
The lucky charm.🍀 pic.twitter.com/9dCBXAcCZn
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 21, 2024
Nunez felt like a man with a point to prove throughout Sunday’s match, stretching the Bournemouth backline with his movement, giving them a physical lesson and, especially in the second half, looking a constant threat.
As if to underline that point he was making, Nunez even managed to double his tally and make it 4-0 for Liverpool deep into second-half stoppage time, with another first-time finish beating Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto from a deep Joe Gomez cross. That’s a team-high seven away goals across all competitions this season for Nunez, who is three clear of any other Liverpool player in that regard.
Remarkably, Liverpool are still yet to lose a Premier League game without Salah since the Egyptian joined the club, winning eight and drawing three. It’s performances like these from Jota — who was directly involved in each of Liverpool’s first three goals — and Nunez that allow for a record like that, proving to Klopp that he has leaders and difference-makers right throughout his squad.
Five Darwin Nunez stats that prove why Liverpool fans love him
- According to Opta’s Michael Reid, only Steven Gerrard (29 games in 07/08 and 30 games in 13/14) and Luis Suarez (23 games in 13/14) have reached 10 goals and 10 assists across all competitions in a single season for Liverpool quicker than Darwin Nunez has this season (31 games).
- In the Premier League this season, only Erling Haaland (0.75) averages a better rate of Expected Goals from Open Play than Nunez (0.66).
- Only Mohamed Salah (1.14) and Haaland (1.25) average more goals or assists per 90 minutes than Nunez (0.97) in the Premier League this season (excluding players with fewer than 1,000 mins).
- Nunez has seven away goals across all competitions this season, nearly double any other Liverpool player.
- Nunez has now surpassed 100 career goals for club and country.
Bournemouth back to reality?
After spending the first portion of the season rooted in the bottom three and seemingly in deep relegation trouble, Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola must be praised for the job he’s done in turning fortunes around and dragging his team up the table. Indeed, 19 of their 25 Premier League points have come in their last nine matches, with progression sealed in the FA Cup during that time as well.
“I really have time to admire what he [Andoni Iraola] is doing at Bournemouth,” Klopp said of the Spaniard on Friday. “Obviously a difficult start with the manager change and the results. If you don’t look properly at Bournemouth it can happen [that you don’t appreciate them] but, wow, they have turned it around and that is proper coaching.”
However, for the first time since mid-October, the Cherries have now lost back-to-back Premier League games, having fallen 3-1 to Tottenham on New Year’s Eve.
Games against Spurs and Liverpool aren’t ones Bournemouth supporters will lose sleep over if they come away with nothing. The expectation will never be on them to pick up three points. However, it was the manner of Sunday’s defeat that might well irk some supporters, with the Cherries barely laying a glove on Liverpool until the game was already beyond reach.
Former Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke was given his fair share of the spotlight prior to the match thanks to hitting 12 Premier League goals already this season, sitting behind only Erling Haaland and Salah (both 14) in the Golden Boot race. Unfortunately, the 26-year-old was starved of service, touching the ball just 27 times and only attempting a single shot.
Up next for Iraola’s side is an FA Cup tie at home to Swansea before an extremely challenging trip to West Ham in the Premier League. The gap between Bournemouth and the bottom three is still only nine points, so they’ll want to avoid slipping back into a losing habit.