Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his team have returned refreshed from their mini-break and are ready to push on in the Premier League title race.
They returned to training on Wednesday – a week after their last game – and head to Bournemouth looking to extend their advantage at the top to five points.
While they will still be missing talisman Mohamed Salah, who is at the Africa Cup of Nations, and are waiting for the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Dominik Szoboszlai to return from injury, Klopp believes everyone benefited from a break from the intensity of the Premier League.
“Friday was the third session since we are back and you could see it was really important to everybody, for everybody,” he said.
“As much as they like going on holiday, the thing they like most is actually playing football and that’s really cool to see.
“Nobody wanted to have three or four weeks, we are in the middle of a season (and) we love what happened so far.
“We are looking forward to what’s coming up, but these four days were just top class. We had a break and now we can go for the rest of the season.”
Victory at the Vitality Stadium would bring up 22 points away from home, just one short of their previous campaign, and Liverpool are already 16 points ahead of where they were at this point last season.
However, Bournemouth are one of the top flight’s form teams with six wins and a draw from their last eight league matches and have not lost at home in the league since October 21 after new manager Adoni Iraola turned things around after just one win in their first 11 matches.
“They turned it around – that’s real coaching – and he found a way to set this team up.
“It will be a difficult game, but I don’t think they are now preparing the game against us and thinking, ‘Thank God Liverpool is coming’ because we feel good as well.”
Part of Bournemouth’s recent success is the contribution from former Liverpool forward Dominic Solanke, who has eight goals in as many league appearances, and 12 in 19 top-flight league games so far after just one in 21 league games for the Reds.
“He made the absolute right decision to go,” said Klopp.
“He went the hard way, trying here, realising, ‘Maybe a bit too early’ and then going to Bournemouth.”
After going through the trauma of having his parents kidnapped in his native Colombia, he was reunited with his family for Christmas on Merseyside and Klopp has seen a change in the winger’s demeanour.
“After after the most challenging time of his life, which nobody is prepared for, he’s back. You can see it in each training session it’s different,” said Klopp.
“He cannot not smile when he is on the ball. There were a few weeks where I missed that a little bit, but the smile is back.”