Harsh words were directed Liverpool‘s way after the defeat at Manchester United on Monday.
Former vice-captain Jamie Carragher called it “embarrassing” as they started the Premier League season in sluggish manner with two draws and the loss at Old Trafford.
It came just a couple of months on from last season’s exploits, when they came agonisingly close to football immortality, winning the Carabao Cup and FA Cup but then finishing runners-up in the Premier League by a point and losing the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Manager Jurgen Klopp has set high standards during his time at Anfield and his side failed to meet them so far this term, but promoted Bournemouth’s arrival on Merseyside gave the Reds a chance to remind their rivals of their credentials.
Liverpool’s performance did that and more. The Reds produced a display of relentless, attacking football that resulted in a 9-0 victory that equalled the biggest victory in Premier League history… and left fans chanting for 10.
When asked how the result ranked personally, Klopp pointed to the performance of his team.
“Nine-nil is a strange result, it will not happen often,” said the German.
“It just feels a very important result. It is not that we worked less in the last eight weeks, we were all in a really good mood, liked what we saw most of the time – but you don’t get it in the stadium.
“You have to turn a few other screws, and that is our job. When it turns out like today it is fantastic.”
‘A perfect football afternoon for us’
There was optimism around Liverpool when, inspired by new signing Darwin Nunez, they defeated champions Manchester City in the Community Shield, but the Reds lacked their usual spark in draws against Fulham and Crystal Palace.
They were outrun by Erik ten Hag’s United at the start of the week and there were suggestions Klopp’s side might be suffering a hangover from last season’s ultimate disappointments.
The loss at Old Trafford was their first in the league of 2022 and they responded on Saturday by taking apart newly promoted Bournemouth with a ruthless showing in front of their own supporters.
Luis Diaz and Harvey Elliott set them on the way with goals in the opening five minutes and Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s thunderbolt, Roberto Firmino‘s close-range finish and Virgil van Dijk‘s header made it 5-0 at the break.
The hosts scored four more times in the second half courtesy of Chris Mepham’s own goal, Fabio Carvalho’s first for the club then Diaz and Firmino both adding to their tallies.
“We had to prove a point for us,” said Klopp. “I loved the start so much, we didn’t hold anything back – putting them under pressure. We got early goals and kept going with the same purpose.
“It was important we kept going. If you let them score one you have a bitter taste in a wonderful afternoon. At 6-0 we could bring on the kids – it was a perfect football afternoon for us.
“We all know we needed something like that. We had bigger chances in other games and did not use them.”
England defender Alexander-Arnold said: “We had a point to prove after three disappointing games but the main thing was to come out and win and we did it in fantastic fashion.”
Teenager Elliott, who scored his first Premier League goal with a sublime curling effort, said: “It is a massive relief for us and our fans to put in a performance and show people who doubted us. We’re buzzing.”
‘It could have been 12, 13, 14’
Before the game, a 9-0 result had only been achieved three times in the Premier League era – twice by Manchester United against Ipswich and Southampton, as well as Leicester thrashing the Saints.
Brazil forward Firmino reminded people of his ability as he ended a barren run of 20 games without scoring in the league for Liverpool.
With two goals and three assists, the 30-year-old had a hand in five goals, becoming just the third Reds player after Mohamed Salah and Luis Suarez to achieve the feat in the same game.
“Firmino has not got the best stats in terms of goalscoring, but players love playing alongside him because he is such a great team player,” ex-Chelsea winger Pat Nevin said on BBC Radio 5 Live. “People thought he was on the way out with Darwin Nunez coming in, but what a great answer.
“You sometimes take the brilliance for granted, it was sheer torture for Bournemouth. Carvalho would walk into any position in the forward line and look at home. He is that good.
“Nine goals and it could have been 12, 13 14, that is not an exaggeration. Everything went perfectly and Bournemouth will hope they never have another day like this.”
Toughest and painful day – Parker
Bournemouth enjoyed a victory against Aston Villa on the opening weekend of the campaign but were torn apart by Liverpool.
After four games, the Cherries have conceded the most goals (16) in the top-flight so far, while the result was the joint-heaviest defeat in their entire league history.
In their previous two games, Bournemouth were beaten 4-0 by champions Manchester City and 3-0 at home against Arsenal.
Their downcast manager Scott Parker said afterwards: “This is the toughest and most painful day I have experienced for sure. The touchline today was painful and I could sense it was for the players too. They need some help and in some moments the levels were too great.
“It was a really humbling experience, shell-shocking. The levels we are playing against and the quality they have is far greater than what we have at our disposal at this moment in time. I feel sorry for the fans and for the players.
“Tonight will be a long, sleepless night reflecting and a difficult one to process. We are learning really harsh lessons which at times are unfair.
“We don’t just talk about Liverpool or the two previous fixtures, this division is ruthless. It can leave some scars, the experiences they are facing. Painful, absolutely painful and Liverpool were ruthless.”
Asked if this will be the lowest point in their season, manager Parker said: “At this moment in time, where we currently are, I can see some more to be honest with you.”