After some big wins on the road, the action is back at Anfield where Liverpool take on a Hull side who started off incredibly well given how bad they were expected to be but they’ve had back-to-back defeats (of which the loss to Manchester United was undeserved). Therefore, it might just be a good time to play them; especially considering one of their first choice central defenders (who isn’t a natural defender) is going to miss the match due to suspension and with their last defeat being by heavy margin morale could very well be low in the Hull City camp.
Hull use the same 4-3-3 formation like Liverpool but their style of play and personnel is different.
Firstly, their wingers tend to play wider than ours, which means Hull put in more crosses than we do; furthermore, their first choice wingers Diomande and Snodgrass take a combined 3.8 Shots Per Goal every 90 minutes (as many as Coutinho does on his own) and have 4 goals, same as Sadio Mane and Coutinho who take 5.6 shots per goal on average. This shows they are more clinical and accurate with their finishing but they have fewer dribbles and so we’ll have to guard against shots from outside the box and Liverpool’s fullbacks will have to show the wingers onto their weaker foot.
What Hull did extremely well against Leicester was they were really aggressive in their play, they dispossessed Leicester more times and they put in more tackles as well as blocking more shots; yet they somewhat played on the counter attack with less shots and lesser possession than Leicester. However, they really used the physical prowess in their side by winning more of the aerial duels, winning more corners and most importantly scoring from 1 of them.
We all know Leicester try to either play wide and depend on the Magical Mahrez or play balls in behind the defense for Vardy to run onto but Hull play a very deep backline which effectively made the ball in behind tactics redundant and with their wingers coming back to defend their own penalty area, there wasn’t enough space for Mahrez to operate in with Hull making sure he was marked almost all the time.
Hull tried to play a similar game against Arsenal but it backfired massively for 2 reasons; firstly Arsenal play with a 4-2-3-1 and the 3 Attacking Midfielders outnumbered the single holding midfielder for hull and they used a mobile forward in Sanchez who likes to run into channels and pockets of space in between the back 4 and midfield rather than run in behind the defense.
Hull couldn’t cope with the pressure and their aggressive style of play combined with the quick feet of the Arsenal players meant Hull committed lots of fouls, one of which resulted in a card and from there on in they were hardly going to come back into the match.
Milner will have his hands full with Snodgrass and he’ll need to be on top of his game to keep the Winger quiet who has been Hull’s best player by far this season. He is Hull’s top scorer this season with 3 goals and has a good passing accuracy – 86.5 % – for a winger.
Another Hull player to watch out for is Curtis Davies. Even though he won’t have the surprisingly impressive Livermore (a DM) to partner him in central defense, Davies has been very impressive and has been Hull’s best defender by a mile. He showed his class against Manchester United making great tackles, blocking a good number of shots and making a lot of interceptions making him the Man of the Match. Sam Clucas has come in and done an impressive job in DM but was horribly exposed against Arsenal as he alone was up against 3 attacking midfielders who possess lots of pace and trickery.
Liverpool are on a high with a great buzz around the team and their prospects this season. They will come up against Curtis Davies who is in the form of his life – albeit missing his impressive partner Livermore – but this will not be a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination.
I feel Klopp will start with Firmino up front considering Sturridge only returned to training on Thursday and having seen how Sanchez started as an orthodox striker against Hull and was very impressive running into channels and dropping deep attracting defenders with him opening up spaces for others to run into. Firmino possesses the ability to do all that as well as press high up the pitch and with his incredible stamina he could really make a difference in attack. Sturridge could be a good option to come off the bench and make a difference in attack because he could stretch a more tired Hull defense later on in the match.
It’s going to be a fascinating encounter and although Liverpool will be favourites, Hull will look to sit deep, defend well and hit Liverpool on the counter attack. Liverpool’s fullbacks will need to be alert defensively amidst all their attacking moves because Hull tend to exploit the wide areas on the counter with their pacey wingers who’ve contributed to 5 of their 6 league goals this season.
I would stick with Simon Mignolet in goal because he hasn’t really put a foot wrong this season, people will mention him flapping at set pieces every now and then but I could easily point out Karius did the same on his debut at Derby but it will get overlooked because instead of supporting our players they need to give them more confidence, some of the fans are hell-bent on just criticizing them. It’s a healthy competition we’ve got for the goalkeeping position and it’s brought out the best in Mignolet thus far therefore I wouldn’t drop him because that just completely destroys a player’s morale.
My Prediction: Once again I’m going to go for a Liverpool win, it could either be a tight win by a 1 goal margin or we could just run away with it and score 4 or 5 and given our current form I’d be inclined in favour of the latter.