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Eddie Howe challenges Bournemouth to rise to ‘ultimate test’ against Liverpool

The relegation-threatened Cherries face a Reds side looking to respond to back-to-back defeats.

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Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is in no doubt of the task facing his relegation-battlers at Anfield (Mark Kerton/PA)

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is in no doubt of the task facing his relegation-battlers at Anfield (Mark Kerton/PA)

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is in no doubt of the task facing his relegation-battlers at Anfield (Mark Kerton/PA)

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has challenged his side to rise to “probably the ultimate test” at Premier League leaders Liverpool.

The Cherries have found themselves back in the relegation zone following last weekend’s 2-2 home draw with Chelsea, which stretched a winless run to three games.

Liverpool, meanwhile, will be out to respond after a shock 3-0 defeat at Watford ended their long unbeaten league run before a 2-0 loss at Chelsea on Tuesday night saw them exit the FA Cup.

Howe knows just what Bournemouth will be up against at Anfield, where the Reds have not lost a league game in almost three years.

“I have to compliment Jurgen Klopp, his team and his players on what they have achieved to this point. They have been incredible,” Howe said.

“They have played to such a high level every week. The way they play, the intensity they play at, it is very difficult to recreate that time after time – but they have.

“They have also come back from losing positions and got valuable points from difficult situations. The character of their group looks very strong.”

Howe said at a press conference reported by the club: “That is why we know this is probably the ultimate test this season.

“This game for us is probably the hardest one we will face. That is why we have got to certainly rise to it, embrace it and attack it from our perspective.

“We can only control what we do. The lads have trained really well and were lifted by the way we played against Chelsea.

“We are responding very well psychologically to the challenge in front of us.”

The Cherries have a poor recent record against Liverpool – losing 17-0 on aggregate in their past five encounters.

“These games are very difficult, you are playing one of the elite teams in world football,” Howe said.

“But if you go back beyond that, there were a few games where we were competitive and had a couple of memorable results against them.

“It can be done. We just have to be at our absolute best – anything other than that in this game is not going to be good enough.”

Howe added: “I do not see any game as a ‘free hit’, I don’t quite know what that means really.

“We go there with the expectation to perform and win – if you don’t go with that into any game, then you are almost beaten before you start.”

Bournemouth will not be able to call on loan midfielder Harry Wilson, who is ineligible to play against his parent club.

“It is a blow for us because Harry has been excellent for us this season,” said Howe.

“When you take the loan player, you know that is the situation in those two games, but he has been a very important player for us this season.”

PA