The Chalkboard: The absence of David Brooks and Callum Wilson should have Liverpool dreaming of top spot

Liverpool welcome Bournemouth to Anfield on Saturday afternoon for a fixture which lends the hosts the opportunity to move back into top spot before Manchester City clash with Chelsea on Sunday.

On the chalkboard

The dynamic of the title race has shifted in 2019. Before the turn of the year, Liverpool were imperious, dominant and apparently unbeatable, but defeat at Manchester City in January has changed everything.

More recently, both Leicester City and West Ham United proved that there are frailties to be exploited within Liverpool’s back four, with injuries to Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold serving to disrupt a previously unbreakable unit.

That Liverpool have dropped points against the Foxes and the Hammers of late will be giving Eddie Howe reason to believe that his side can clinch a result at Anfield.

With Gomez and Alexander-Arnold still sidelined, Klopp will be forced to start a midfielder at right-back, and the joy the Hammers enjoyed against a makeshift back-four suggests the Cherries could cause an upset.

However, one pertinent detail worth bearing in mind is that Bournemouth are missing some key players of their own, with Eddie Howe confirming David Brooks Callum Wilson will be absent on Merseyside, as per Sky Sports.

“David has been to see a specialists and had scans, so I think around the four-week mark for him,” said Howe.

“Callum, it’s just a clean out of his knee, he’s probably around the same mark. We’re not going to be able to get them back earlier than that.

Bournemouth lack firepower without Brooks and Wilson

Bournemouth suffered a 2-0 defeat away at Cardiff City last weekend with Brooks and Wilson sidelined.

The absence of the injury-prone centre-forward allowed Dominic Solanke to step into the starting eleven for his debut last weekend, but his impact was minimal and he was subsequently withdrawn after 62 minutes.

It will naturally take time for Solanke to find his feet on the south coast, and an emotionally charged return to Anfield is unlikely to offer him the type of fixture he needs to get his eye in.

Brooks’ absence, meanwhile, is a huge blow. The 21-year-old playmaker has been at the heart of Bournemouth’s flair and creativity in the final-third this season, and his return of six goals and four assists from 22 Premier League matches speaks volumes about how seamlessly he has made the step up to top-flight football.

Without Brooks Howe is undoubtedly lacking the cog who connects the various parts of his machine, and with their top goalscorer also sidelined Liverpool fans can dream of returning to top spot.