Liverpool issued a significant statement of intent by returning from their mid-winter break with a thumping victory at Bournemouth.
Two goals apiece from Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota did the damage in the second half as the Reds romped to a 4-0 triumph. The result means Jurgen Klopp’s men are now five points clear at the Premier League summit, although Manchester City have a game in hand.
But there was plenty that went unnoticed or under the radar during the 90 minutes at the Vitality Stadium.
Curtis Jones had an eventful afternoon. He played a key part in the opening goal and was a lively performer before his afternoon was ended early by a possible injury.
But in the first half he found himself unwittingly targeted by his own team-mates. Firstly, a skirmish by the touchline for possession with several Bournemouth players ended with Nunez joining in and smashing the ball against Jones from close range, leaving the midfielder in a heap.
And then in almost the same area shortly afterwards, Jones was tackled by Jota in another battle for the ball. Do they not know he’s on their side?
Drum roll for Curtis
There was another funny moment during the second half involving Jones, although this time it didn’t include him being put upon by colleagues.
When a clearance fell invitingly for the midfielder on the edge of the area, he couldn’t resist attempting a volley that ended up so off target it hit the roof of the stand behind the goal.
Cue a comical drum roll from a supporter inside the stadium, prompting chuckles all round. Mind you, a saxophonist and trumpeter walked through the press room before the game. Maybe the Vitality Stadium doubles up as a rehearsal studio.
There was the potential red-card tackle by Justin Kluivert on Luis Diaz and the remarkable ability of home defender Chris Mepham to avoid a booking despite a succession of fouls.
But what really prompted Klopp’s ire was when, after fouling Conor Bradley to the turf, Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook continued to nibble away at the prone Liverpool youngster right in front of the dugout.
Cue an angry reaction from the Reds boss who was then involved in a shouting match with a member of the home coaching staff. That come full-time they shook hands suggests it was a Storm Isha in a teacup.
It wasn’t the best afternoon for Bournemouth supporters and their attempts to wind up Liverpool players. Having failed miserably to put off Nunez, the same happened with Jota.
The Portuguese completely missed his kick when attempting to convert Conor Bradley’s cross, prompting jeers of derision from the home fans. But within a split-second, Jota reacted quickest to smash the ball into the net for Liverpool’s third goal.
The Reds forward can be forgiven his subsequent pointed celebration towards the Bournemouth support.