3 Key Battles That Could Decide Bournemouth's Clash With Liverpool on Sunday

Both Bournemouth and Liverpool are without a win in their last two fixtures. Liverpool drew to both West Bromwich Albion and local rivals Everton, whilst Bournemouth lost to Manchester United and drew with Crystal Palace.

Liverpool are now level on points with Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur, sitting out of the top four on goal difference only. Bournemouth, meanwhile, sit two points above the relegation zone after not winning in their last five games.

The two teams both are in need of a win on Sunday and these are three battles on the pitch, which could determine the outcome of the game...

3. Jermain Defoe vs Dejan Lovren

After a slow start to the season Jermain Defoe is now beginning to show his quality. The England international scored twice against Crystal Palace last time he started, and will be eager to add to his tally for the season. Defoe will be looking to take advantage of Dejan Lovren's poor form when they meet at the Vitality Stadium.

Lovren has endured a torrid season so far, with many Liverpool fans criticising him for defensive errors which have cost the team. 

The failure to secure Virgil van Dijk in the summer has left Liverpool vulnerable at the back, something which Defoe will be relishing.

2. Nathan Ake vs Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool's 'fab four' this season, contributing four goals and three assists. His work rate, electric pace and clinical finishing have proved to be a deadly combination for the Anfield club.

One of the defenders tasked with nullifying Mane's threat is Nathan Ake, who signed permanently from Chelsea for a fee in the region of £20mil. The 22-year-old has been one of the best defenders this season, making 27 tackles and over 100 clearances this season.

Ake is one of the faster defenders in the league and is therefore better equipped to handle Mane than most. If the Dutchman is able to contain Mane it will certainly help to stem Liverpool's attacking flow.

1. Asmir Begovic vs Mohamed Salah

The November player of the month, Mohamed Salah, was well and truly worthy of the award. Salah scored seven goals during this incredible month and is now the leading scorer in the division with 13.

If Bournemouth hope to get a result against the Merseyside team Asmir Begovic needs to be on top form. Begovic has kept four clean sheets this season but will need to produce a top class performance if he intends to add to that number against Liverpool.

With a good defence in front of him the Bosnian and Herzegovina goalkeeper should be somewhat protected from Salah's threat. However, the Egyptian will inevitably create an opportunity for himself at some point during the game and Begovic must be on the top of his game to keep Salah out.