Nathan Aké made his third consecutive start for Bournemouth but not, as one would expect, at left-back in the absence of Charlie Daniels. Aké once again assumed his left-centre-back role, with right-back Adam Smith filling in on the left side instead.
Bournemouth were dealt a quick double-blow in the 20th and 22nd minutes, with Sadio Mane and Divock Origi both running in behind the defence and finishing with aplomb. For Mane’s goal, Aké was the defender called into question after failing to deal with the lobbed through ball before it bounced and subsequently being out-muscled and outpaced by the mercurial Mane, although perhaps goalkeeper Artur Boruc left his line too quickly. Origi was played in behind the space between Aké and Steve Cook after Harry Arter lost the ball in midfield and though one may fault Aké for being a bit further forward than he should’ve been, Boruc was definitely more to blame for this goal, once again leaving his line too quickly and being beaten easily by Origi, who finished from a very acute angle.
A major turning point in the game was the introduction of Ryan Fraser, who was called upon due to an injury to Junior Stanislas. Fraser almost immediately won Bournemouth a penalty, which was converted by Callum Wilson, but Emre Can restored Liverpool’s lead eight minutes later with a powerful effort from outside the box. By this time the Cherries’ defence had undergone a re-shuffle, with Aké moving over to left-back and Smith to his natural position, right-back. Bournemouth stepped things up a notch started piling pressure relentlessly on their opponents, eventually finding two goals in two minutes via Cook and Fraser.
The stage was set for a grandstand finish and it was none other than Aké who nabbed the winning goal, tapping in after Loris Karius dropped Steve Cook’s shot from outside the box.
Despite all of this, I’m still quite skeptical as to whether Aké will be retained in the line-up when Daniels returns next weekend. No doubt, the youngster is very good on the ball and complements Howe’s system but I think it’s likelier that the manager reverts to his usual first-choice back-line. Hopefully either I’m proved wrong, or Aké is handed another chance soon.
Upcoming fixtures: Burnley (A, December 10)
Patrick Bamford was back on the bench after a few weeks of being missing from it but failed to make an appearance. Kenedy and Loïc Rémy were not involved for their sides. Kenedy has been back at Cobham for some time in fact, recovering from an injury, and some reports claim he's essentially done with his loan.
Kasey Palmer seems to have found his place in the Huddersfield XI, starting once again in a central attacking midfield role and opening the scoring by heading in from a corner in the 6th minute. Palmer played the whole 90 as the Terriers saw a whopping 29 attempts on goal but couldn’t find the back of the net again. Instead, they conceded a penalty that was converted by Danny Graham and thus, somehow, ended up leaving Ewood Park with only a point.
Upcoming fixtures: Bristol City (H, December 10)
Tammy Abraham, as he has recently, once again failed to get in on the Loan Army goal-scoring act, but he did win a penalty for his team and helped them to a much-needed 2-0 victory against Ipswich Town.
Upcoming fixtures: Huddersfield (A, December 10)
Rotherham manager Kenny Jackett immediately took Izzy Brown out of the XI upon his appointment and reduced his role to that of an impact substitute but as of late, Brown seems to have earned his place back. He started against Burton Albion and helped create chances to score early on which the Millers went on to rue missing. They lost 2-1, finding only a consolation goal in the dying seconds of the game that was, however, assisted by Brown.
Upcoming fixtures: QPR (H, December 10)
Tomáš Kalas started in Fulham’s resounding 5-0 victory over Reading while Lucas Piazon was a 76th minute substitute.
Kalas for Fulham #ffc— White Noise (@WhiteNoise1879) December 3, 2016
Before injury - 10 games - 9 goals conceded (0.9 Avg)
Injured - 8 games - 16 goals (2)
Back - 4 games - 3 goals (0.75)
Upcoming fixtures: Wolverhampton (A, December 10)
Newcastle United lost 2-1 to Nottingham Forest after spending half the match reduced to just nine men. Even Nicklas Bendtner scored. Christian Atsu was an unused substitute.
Upcoming fixtures: Birmingham (H, December 10)
Charlie Colkett could only watch from the bench as Bristol Rovers suffered a shock exit from the FA Cup, losing 1-2 to fifth-tier Barrow. Garry Hayes’ interview with Colkett this week makes for a good read and is well worth your time.
Upcoming fixtures: Bury (H, December 10)
Doncaster Rovers claimed their fourth consecutive victory and climbed to the top of the League Two table, with an ultimately nervy 3-4 win against Stevenage. Jordan Houghton started, of course.
Wycombe Wanderers marched into the third round of the FA Cup with a 5-0 thrashing of Chesterfield, their fifth consecutive victory in all competitions and also a third consecutive clean sheet for Jamal Blackman, whose quotes on his happy time at Wycombe this season you can read over at the official Chelsea website as part of the "Steps Up" feature.
Dermot Drummy’s Crawley Town have been struggling in recent times, losing four of their last five games, the latest loss being a particularly humiliating one as Yeovil Town put five past them. Alex Davey played the whole 90 while Mitchell Beeney was a substitute.
Dion Conroy played the whole of Aldershot’s 2-0 win against Boreham Wood.
Nathan Baxter started in both of Met Police’s games this week, one being a 3-3 draw against Dulwich Hamlet and the other, a 2-1 win against Leiston.
Jeremie Boga was a catalyst in Granada’s first league victory of the season. Boga assisted Manchester United loanee Andreas Pereira’s opener after beating his man and sending a cross to the unmarked Brazillian in the box. Boga came off to a standing ovation in the 75th minute after the hamstring problem that kept him out of Granada’s cup tie earlier in the week seemed to re-surface.
Victorien Angban started the Copa del Rey clash against Osasuna in mid-week and played well, but it strangely seemed to have not been enough to bring him back into the match-day squad in the weekend.
Upcoming fixtures: Malaga (A, December 9)
Charly Musonda is apparently back at Cobham due to a knee problem and missed out for Betis this week.
Andreas Christensen started and recorded seven interceptions as Borussia Monchengladbach took an early lead against Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park via Raffael but collapsed to a 4-1 loss.
Upcoming fixtures: Barcelona (A, December 6), Mainz (H, December 11)
Baba Rahman was an unused substitute for Schalke, who lost 2-1 to RB Leipzig.
Upcoming fixtures: RB Salzburg (A, December 8), Bayer Leverkusen (H, December 11)
Michael Hector played the final 15 minutes of Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-1 draw against Augsburg.
Upcoming fixtures: Hoffenheim (H, December 9)
Vitesse won their first league game in two months with a 3-1 defeat of PEC Zwolle, thanks to goals from Lewis Baker, Zhang Yuning and Nathan, who was a 74th minute substitute. Matt Miazga was brought on in the dying minutes of the game.
Despite this, Nathan was not booked by the referee, in what was an extremely compassionate gesture.
Incidentally, this long-awaited victory for Vitesse came a day after Guus Hiddink visited the Vitesse training center and dined with the team.
Upcoming fixtures: Sparta Rotterdam (A, December 11)
Danilo Pantic and Bertrand Traore were not involved for their respective sides; Traore will miss a few weeks due to an injury he sustained in Ajax’s previous game.
Cristian Cuevas and Matej Delac started as STVV took on Royal Mouscron and prevailed 1-0, but Islam Feruz was not involved.
Cuevas was brought on in the extra-time period of STVV’s cup tie earlier in the week.
Mario Pasalic was handed another start, as Milan faced lowly Crotone. Pasalic lasted the whole 90 and scored the first of his team's goals in the 2-1 victory, in typical fashion with a header inside the six-yard box. Michael Emenalo was reportedly at the San Siro on the day as well.
PASALIC GOAL ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/dVdydPBQrs— TheMilanBible (@TheMilanBible) December 4, 2016
Kenneth Omeruo started in Alanyaspor’s 2-3 loss again Konyaspor.