AFC Bournemouth began the English Premier League’s 27th gameweek squarely at the bottom of the table, with just 21 points. They faced Liverpool at home in Saturday’s opening game, and 90 minutes later, they had managed to register just their second-ever competitive win against the Reds (1-0). Key to today’s success was January arrival Dango Ouattara, who joined from FC Lorient for a fee of €27m, bonuses included. He provided the key pass for Bournemouth’s 28th minute winner.
As the Cherries’ third-most expensive signing of all time, the young man, who turned 21 in February, has high expectations on his shoulders. The Burkina Faso international would represent a new and exciting threat on the break, one whose speed and vision had helped him to accrue six goals and six assists for Lorient across the first half of the 2022/23 season. After seven consecutive league starts, he has yet to score in the English top flight, but he has provided three assists.
But today, it was not so much his attacking play that drew praise, but rather his ability to contain Liverpool full-back Andy Robertson. Ouattara’s close marking of the Scotsman helped to close off a valuable avenue on the Reds’ left side. Nonetheless, the Burkinabé did have two promising moments in the Liverpool penalty area. One-on-one, he took the ball around goalkeeper Alisson, but spurned his effort into the side-netting in the ninth minute. Just 19 minutes later, he fired in a powerful cross that found its way to Billing, who scored his 6th goal of the season.
Bournemouth not only secured three points to lift them out of the relegation zone, but they also managed to claw back a hint of integrity. In the reverse fixture at Anfield, Liverpool had beaten them 9-0. Furthermore, this was their first clean sheet in this fixture since 1968 – and only their second-ever.
Liverpool entered the game on a high, having beaten high-flyers Manchester United last weekend 7-0, in what was the Red Devils’ worst Premier League defeat since 1931. They would be mistaken in believing that today’s fixture against Bournemouth was their chance to reignite their top-four chances. Instead, they capitulated on the south coast. Dango Ouattara had a pivotal role in what may turn out to be a massive win for the Cherries.
GFFN | Brendan Cox