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Bournemouth vs Liverpool: Cook vs Jones & Other Key Battles To Watch Out For

Bournemouth entertain Liverpool at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday evening, with both teams looking to continue their recent good form in the Premier League.

The Cherries had gone on a seven-game unbeaten run in the Premier League before being beaten 3-1 by Tottenham Hotspur in north London on New Year’s Eve. However, they bounced back a week later with a 3-2 win over Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup third round.

On the other hand, the Reds are at the summit of the Premier League and have won four games on the bounce across all competitions. They come into this game off the back of last week’s 2-1 win over Fulham in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.

On that note, here are the three key battles that could define the outcome of the contest.

#Chris Mepham vs Diogo Jota

As Marcos Senesi is suspended, Chris Mepham looks likely to deputise in central defence alongside Illia Zabarnyi. Mepham has not played much this season as the growing partnership of Senesi and Zabarnyi has restricted him to just five Premier League appearances. However, the 26-year-old will be raring to lay down a marker against Liverpool’s strong attacking unit.

Diogo Jota has been brilliant since returning from injury last month. With his pressing, pace and movement, the Portuguese was a real pest for the Arsenal defenders in the FA Cup third-round tie at the Emirates Stadium. Following a strong showing, he could be given the nod to lead the Liverpool attack on Sunday.

If that is the case, Jota will look to exploit Mepham’s lack of pace and game rhythm. So, the Bournemouth defender has to be at his utmost best to keep Jota quiet.

#Curtis Jones vs Lewis Cook

Fresh from a sparkling performance against Fulham in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final in which he scored the vital equaliser, Curtis Jones is likely to get the nod against Bournemouth. The 22-year-old brings energy and balance to the Reds’ midfield trio, while his work rate can prove key in forcing turnovers and leading the press in central areas.

But what we saw from Jones against Fulham was a more offensive performance as he constantly made late runs in the box and was duly rewarded in the second half. This means he could come face-to-face with Lewis Cook in Bournemouth’s midfield this weekend.

Cook has been a regular fixture in Andoni Iraola’s side, with the 26-year-old sitting deep in midfield and controlling the tempo. Andoni Iraola wants his team to play front-footed, attacking football – and this bold approach could make the Cherries vulnerable in transitions. However, Cook’s intelligence and reading of the game have meant the team can take those risks in the knowledge the midfielder has the space in behind under control.

So, Jones will have to produce his A-game to cause Cook problems at the Vitality Stadium.

#Dominic Solanke vs Liverpool centre-backs

Dominic Solanke has essentially come to the party with Bournemouth this season, making a solid impact in the Premier League with 12 strikes in 19 games. He is in the form of his life and his goalscoring displays have taken Bournemouth away from the danger zone.

With six goals in his last six league games, the 26-year-old’s confidence is sky-high at the moment and he will be raring to haunt his former employers on Sunday. Standing in the way of Solanke will be Liverpool centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate.

Van Dijk and Konate have been solid as a pair this season and will be confident of taming the Bournemouth hitman. However, the duo must not lose concentration and give Solanke time and space on the ball if they intend to help Liverpool keep a clean sheet.

Rohan Sengupta

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