Liverpool host Hull City on Saturday in their sixth Premier League game of the season, bidding to make it four wins out of four in all competitions, and must do so by getting past the inevitable defensive style that the Tigers will bring to Anfield.
It’s back to the bread and butter, to a certain extent. A home league game against a side that are huge underdogs, Saturday, 3PM. These are the games that Liverpool so often frustrate in, but will they live up to expectation this time around?
We’re now well into the league season, with five games giving us an excellent opportunity to take a proper look at both of these two teams. For Liverpool, it’s been all about beating the big boys so far, with triumphant away victories against Arsenal and Chelsea sandwiched by four points from their other three matches.
The second game of the season, Burnley away, is possibly the one that takes most relevance ahead of this encounter, as the Reds struggled to break down Sean Dyche’s low-block at Turf Moor, losing 2-0. They responded with a win over Burton Albion in the cup, before missing a whole host of opportunities in a 1-1 draw against Spurs at White Hart Lane.
However, despite the Burnley loss, they may draw on the last game at Anfield to give them confidence ahead of this one. Champions Leicester City came to defend to a certain extent, but Liverpool never let them settle, steamrollering them 4-1 in some style, a result that many would love to see repeated on Saturday.
Had this fixture been scheduled a couple of weeks prior, Hull would have looked like much more dangerous opposition. They started the season excellently, beating Leicester and Swansea in the opening two weeks before a last minute Marcus Rashford goal denied them from taking two points off Manchester United.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, that Rashford goal seemed to signal that the wheels would come off a little, as they laboured to a draw against Burnley in their next league game, before being thumped 4-1 at home by Arsenal last week.
Both sides won their League Cup ties in midweek, Liverpool seeing off Derby County 0-3 whilst Hull edged to a 1-2 win at Stoke. The Reds enter the game sixth in the league, but could end Saturday in second. Hull, meanwhile, are 12th.
It’s much easier to start with what we do know about Liverpool’s team news, as there’s much to speculate upon. Sheyi Ojo is nearing a return to training, but isn’t available for this one, much like Joe Gomez.
Now, how about the rest? Jürgen Klopp is keeping his cards extremely close to his chest regarding who he’s going to pick in goal, although it does seem that Simon Mignolet might just have done enough to keep his place for the time being.
Moving forward, the back four is unlikely to change from last week’s win at Chelsea, with Joel Matip looking to keep up his excellent form. Mamadou Sakho is said to still be a little bit away from match fitness.
Emre Can made his return from injury off the bench at Derby, so may stake a claim in midfield, but the German looked a little rusty and it’s been suggested that he’ll be kept out of the starting XI for at least one more week.
Coutinho, Firmino, Mane and Sturridge are the awesome foursome competing for three spots at the top of the pitch. All are in excellent form, it’s hard to leave one out, but that one is probably going to be Sturridge after the England international missed a few training sessions at the start of the week due to a slight injury picked up against Chelsea.
Hull have quite a few injury problems, with as many as six players (Greg Luer, Michael Dawson, Alex Bruce, Alex McGregor, Moses Adubajo and Brian Lenihan) set to miss the game through injury, however boss Mike Phelan does have most of his preferred starters available. He’s kept things the same for the first set of games, which would indicate an unchanged line-up on Saturday.
Liverpool predicted XI (4-3-3): Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Henderson, Lallana, Wijnaldum,;Mane, Coutinho, Firmino.
Hull predicted XI (4-4-2): Jakupovic; Elmohamady, Livermore, Davies, Robertson; Huddlestone, Clucas, Meyler, Snodgrass; Diomande, Hernandez.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Although they’re newly promoted, Hull bounced back into the Premier League straightaway after being relegated in 2014-15, meaning it’s not been all that long since the two teams last met.
It wasn’t a profitable season for Liverpool against the Tigers, as they followed up a horrific 0-0 draw at Anfield by losing 1-0 at the KCOM Stadium in late April. Michael Dawson headed in from a corner in the first half, peeling away from his man to power the ball past Simon Mignolet. The points probably meant more to Hull, as it lifted them four points above the relegation zone at the time, virtually ending Liverpool’s chances of Champions League qualification.
- Liverpool have had their most productive start to a season, points wise, since the Rafa Benitez era.
- Hull City can register their third league win of the season on Saturday. It took them until Boxing Day to do that the last time they were in the Premier League.
- Liverpool have only won one of their five previous games against Hull.
- Liverpool have already had seven different league goalscorers this season (Mane, Coutinho, Milner, Lallana, Firmino, Lovren, Henderson).
Match: Liverpool vs Hull City
Date: Saturday 24th September
Time: 15:00 BST
Referee: Andre Marriner
PREDICTION: Liverpool 3-0 Hull City
Whisper it quietly, but my predictions are getting better and better. I called the 1-1 against Spurs, was a goal off against Leicester when predicting a 3-1 win, and correctly said that we’d beat Chelsea 2-1! I’m in confident mood this weekend, and think we’ll get over our problem against lowly teams by swatting Hull aside, ensuring that the wheels fly off the Tigers following their good start to the season.