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In a windy afternoon on the south coast, Liverpool smashed Bournemouth 0-4 to go top of the Premier League.

The Reds have now gone 17 matches without defeat, which equals their best ever run in the Premier League. Who were the winners and losers from James Milner’s 500th Premier League appearance?

Winners: Mohamed Salah

In a performance that should shock nobody, Mohamed Salah was excellent against Bournemouth. For all the talk of Salah having a “down” season he’s producing just about on a par with his performances from last season. The idea that he had somehow fallen off was ludicrous.

Salah opened the scoring with a fantastic bit of poaching; after laying the ball off to Firmino, Salah followed the Brazilian’s shot in and was left with a simple finish when the goalkeeper parried the shot. His second goal involved a bit more skill as he ran through on goal and clipped it (via a deflection) into the far corner of the net to make it 0-2.

Salah he completed his hattrick with just under 15 minutes left when he massacred a Bournemouth defender for pace and power before skipping around the goalkeeper with insulting ease and then finally tucking home with incredible nonchalance. He did his best work after the game, however, refusing the man of the match award and instead giving it to James Milner to honour the Englishman’s 500th game.

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Mohamed Salah; excellent team-mate, hat-trick hero and definitely not a one-season wonder.

Losers: Steve Cook

There’s a lot to admire about Bournemouth, and the way they’ve brought several players up through the divisions is one of them. Steve Cook initially joined Bournemouth on loan when they were in League One. He’s been through two promotions with them and helped to establish them as a Premier League side.

For the most part, Cook has been good in England’s top flight, but every now and again – such as today against Liverpool – you’re reminded of his humble origins. Cook got exposed by Liverpool, with both the Reds’ third and fourth goals coming as a direct result of exploiting him. First he turned Andrew Robertson’s cross into his own net, and then Mohamed Salah brutalised him in a 1v1 duel before making it 0-4.

Winners: VAR

This match ended 0-4 and it was something of a procession, but for the better part of an hour it was actually a close fought thing. Bournemouth gave Liverpool; as good as they gave. Of course, what really set the tone was the Reds taking the lead 25 minutes in.

And that goal, scored by Mohamed Salah as he tucked home a rebound, should have been ruled out for offside. In fact had the much-beloved VAR been active then the goal would have been ruled out for offside. But VAR has to wait until next season before making it’s introduction, at which point it will have more fans in this country than David Beckham did in Autumn 2001.

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Losers: Asmir Begovic

As much as Mohamed Salah’s first goal should have been ruled out for offside, the only reason the Egyptian was in a position to score the goal was because Asmir Begovic didn’t put Roberto Firmino’s shot wide, or at least away from goal; instead the Bosnian palmed the ball straight back ahead of him, effectively teeing up Salah.

And then later on when Salah was racing through on goal, Begovic came rushing out to dive at his feet – thinking that would put him off? Of course, Salah just shrugged, dropped his shoulders and drifted by the goalie. But he had been driving wide! Except Begovic then came charging back at Salah like an stampeding elephant and the Egyptian skipped inside and tapped the ball home to complete his hat-trick.

Winners: Naby Keita

Naby Keita signed for Liverpool just under a year ago, but only joined the Reds in the summer, and he’s yet to really establish himself at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp has taken his time with the Guinean and it may well pay off spectacularly.

Keita was excellent against Bournemouth; finally getting a start and showing his abundant quality from the first whistle right up to his substitution on 65 minutes. Keita was everywhere, active in defence, involved in attack; this was what Liverpool paid all that money for.

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There was one moment in the first half in particular where he beat three Bournemouth defenders on the dribble and then fed the ball forward. It was an incredible promise of what is yet to come from Liverpool’s new no. 8.

Losers: Manchester City

It must be draining being Manchester City. First, you have to be excellent in the face of everyone being out to get you. Everyone wants to topple the Champions, and so they have to be at their best every single week.

Moreover they need to cope with expectations of the media and fans; because they were so sumptuously special last season that we need more of that this season. And finally they have to be brilliant, because that’s what Pep Guardiola demands.

Now imagine you’ve done all of that, all of those impossible tasks, and yet your lead at the top of the league is so small over Liverpool (who aren’t even really playing all that well on a consistent basis) that you are one bad result (or one specific fixture alignment) from losing top spot? That has to be immensely frustrating, right?

The post Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool: Key winners & losers as Salah scores three appeared first on Squawka News.

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