AFC Bournemouth - Liverpool Preview: Cherries looking to end season on a high

The Cherries welcome Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool to The Vitality on Sunday as they look to beat The Reds in a competitive match for the first time in the clubs history.

AFC Bournemouth - Liverpool Preview: Cherries looking to end season on a high
Klopp and Howe met for the first time in Liverpool's 1-0 Capital One Cup victory. (Picture Getty Images).

Ahead of Sunday's clash on the south coast, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp believes his counterpart Eddie Howe is "the most exciting coach in the Premier League".

Howe has guided Bournemouth from the depths of League Two to the dizzy heights of England's top tier - and has all but wrapped up safety in their maiden season with five games to spare.

And Klopp admits he didn't know much about Bournemouth when he arrived in England, but has been more than impressed with what he has seen.

Klopp impressed with his counterpart

The German told fourfourtwo: "For me, he's the most exciting manager in the league. He's still young, It's really impressive.

"They are really strong. I didn't know too much about them before I came to England. I heard about their promotion and style of play, but then they got injuries and had to change their style," said the Liverpool boss.

Bournemouth come into this in slightly indifferent form, having won three and lost two of their previous five games.

Defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City somewhat de-railed the form train. Prior to the game at White Hart Lane, Eddie Howe's men would be sitting in third place if the season had started on December 1, quite an incredible stat - and shows just how far the Premier League minnows have come.

And captain Tommy Elphick believes his side can really kick on now, and says a top 10 finish is not out of the equation. 

"We are 11th at the moment and the aim for us is to finish as hard as possible who knows maybe break into the top of the table," the former Brighton defender told the club's website

Liverpool make the long journey south on Sunday just days after one the greatest, if not the greatest, nights in European history on Merseyside.

The Redmen battled from two goals down inside eight minutes to beat German side Borussia Dortmund 5-4 on aggregate to earn themselves a place in the semi-finals of this year's Europa League.

And although spirits are extremely high in the camp after such a morale-boosting victory, boss Jurgen Klopp is under absolutely no illusions as they prepare to face a very well-drilled Bournemouth side - who themselves are looking to finish their season with a bang.

Klopp told the mirror: “Of course it was wonderful, but a game like this can influence everything. The whole mood and attitude and belief can change.

“But now we have to carry on. Now we are facing Bournemouth.

Team news:

Junior Stanislas could be poised for a return to the squad after a short lay-off with a hamstring strain, however, Benik Afobe looks set to miss out again with the same problem.

A hernia injury will see in-form Adam Smith sitting this one out, and Harry Arter is off to see a specialist which will determine whether or not the midfielder will play again this season.

We can expect wholesale  changes from Jurgen Klopp as his side prepare for a congested three Premier League fixtures in seven days.

Emre Can will now miss the rest of the campaign after damaging his ankle ligaments, with Joe Allen expected to deputise for the German - and Lucas Leiva is back in contention after a recovering from a thigh strain.

Daniel Sturridge is expected to return in attack and Kevin Stewart may be rewarded with another start after impressing against Stoke last Sunday.

Match stats

Liverpool have never lost a competitive match against Bournemouth, winning six times and drawing twice.

Bournemouth have already lost to Sunday's opponents twice this season, once in the league and once in the Capital One Cup - both one-nil defeats.

The Cherries have struggled at home as of late, with four defeats in their last seven.

Prior to this weekend, only Everton, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa have suffered more home defeats than Bournemouth's tally of seven this season. Everton and Villa are also the only teams to concede more goals in front of their own fans.

Liverpool's 4-1 victory over Stoke City last weekend was only their second in the eight matches played directly after a European fixture (W2, D4, L2).

Daniel Sturridge could start four successive league games in a single season for the first time in two years.