Wednesday 25 April 2018

Benteke is no Balotelli - Five things we learned from Liverpool's victory over Bournemouth

Liverpool's Christian Benteke celebrates scoring his first goal for the club against Bournemouth
Liverpool's Christian Benteke celebrates scoring his first goal for the club against Bournemouth

Chris Bascombe

Five things we learned from Liverpool's narrow and controversial defeat of Bournemouth.

Christian Benteke is no Mario Balotelli

Balotelli managed one Premier League goal all season, so it will come as some relief to Brendan Rodgers his new £32.5 million striker was able to match this in only his second game.

Benteke certainly makes Liverpool play a more direct style. At times they were more like Chelsea in their efforts to bully an attractive opponent than the Liverpool of two years ago that was likeable as well as effective.

This evolution will only be tolerated if there is substance to go with the change of style.

The officials don’t know the new offside rules

Under the latter of the law, Christian Benteke’s first goal for Liverpool was legal… last season.

This year, the rule change was meant to penalise a player deemed to be interfering with play in an offside position, regardless of whether he touched the ball. Philippe Coutinho was clearly doing so six yards from goal. It was a blunder by referee Craig Pawson and his assistants.

Christian Benteke scores the first goal for Liverpool

On the back of Tommy Elphick’s disallowed header, Eddie Howe was learning about how tough it is get decisions at the most high profile venues.

Nathaniel Clyne is an astute buy

So many Liverpool full-backs have come and gone, many arriving with spectacular goals that camouflaged the fact they were hopeless defenders.

Clyne immediately endeared himself to The Kop with his defensive capacities, outsprinting and overpowering Bournemouth attackers at a point when the rest of his side was struggling in the early stages.

The millions wasted on Liverpool full-backs would make every Anfield accountant weep. They should sleep easier after Clyne’s early performances.

Liverpool are taking a risk selling Lucas

For the second week, Liverpool did not even have Lucas Leiva on the substitutes' bench. Brendan Rodgers seems convinced he does not need a specialist defensive midfielder, but as Bournemouth pushed for an equaliser in the second half this was debatable.

Lucas would have offered more assurance in front of the back four. Emre Can is a promising footballer, but he is being trusted with plenty of responsibility playing a holding role.

Bournemouth must avoid the pitfalls of being the side everyone loves

It’s all very well being the club everyone secretly adores, but Eddie Howe would willingly swap popularity for points.

There is a danger Bournemouth will become the most patronised team in the Premier League, receiving football’s equivalent of a pat on the head as they play pretty football but are left counting the cost of bad luck and poor decisions.

Eddie may need to start ranting at officialdom and start talking about worldwide conspiracies to deprive him of success.

Well, it works for Jose Mourinho…

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