10am, live in the US on FSC
Last 4 head-to-head:
3-1 Liverpool (a) 04.25.09
2-2 (h) 12.13.08
4-2 Liverpool (h; League Cup) 09.21.99
5-1 Liverpool (a; League Cup) 09.14.99
Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-0 Leeds (a); 3-2 West Ham (a); 1-0 Debrecen (h)
Hull: 0-4 Everton (h); 0-1 Birmingham (h); 4-1 Sunderland (a)
Liverpool: Torres 5; Benayoun, Kuyt 3; Gerrard, Johnson 2; Ngog 1
Hull: Hunt 2; Geovanni, Ghilas, Zayette 1
Referee: Peter Walton
Guess at a squad:
Johnson Skrtel Carragher Insua
Kuyt Benayoun Riera
Unless Aurelio’s forced his way into the team after Tuesday’s performance, I can only see two possible lineups. To Mascherano or not to Mascherano, that is the question. Either Masch starts, with Gerrard behind Torres and Benayoun on the left, or Gerrard partners Lucas in central midfield, and it’s the same team we saw against Burnley and Debrecen.
Even though Gerrard will be more dangerous behind Torres nine times out of ten, I think I’d rather see the above lineup. One, Gerrard was effective against Burnley once the game opened up, and there’s an excellent chance of that happening again, especially with the form Hull’s in. Two, with Hull struggling for both form and points, Phil Brown might decide to park the bus at Anfield and hope for a point, in which case Mascherano would be less necessary. However, given the Hull manager’s tendencies (read: hubris), Brown with probably play with two strikers and try to attack.
Most importantly, I’ve simply been disappointed with Mascherano so far this season. As I wrote week ago, maybe he’s had his head turned by Barcelona, or maybe Argentina’s struggles are weighing on him, but he’s not been at his best yet this season. Tuesday’s frustrated performance included a forearm to Jermaine Beckford that I’m still not sure was incidental (thanks for ignoring it, FA!). Of course, it also saw him notch the assist for the winning goal, but on second viewing, I reckon it was an attempted shot. Maybe Masch could play his way through this spell, as Torres appeared to do at West Ham, but I’m inclined to see Lucas and Gerrard in midfield.
As said above, Aurelio’s return is another possibility. But the Brazilian played 90 minutes in midfield on Tuesday, in his first start of the season, so it’s probably too soon for another 90. In my wildest dreams, I imagine Agger’s return, as a ball-carrying defender would be beyond useful in a game like this. He also has the pace to cover for fullbacks camped in the opposition half. But if he didn’t make the squad on Tuesday, he’s not likely to here. Soon though. Hopefully.
After six games last season, Hull had three wins, two draws and a loss, including an away victory at Arsenal. This season, it’s one win, one draw, and four losses. Since that atrocious 2-2 draw at Anfield in December, where two goals from Gerrard saved a draw after going two down, Hull’s played 27 games. They only won twice.
Hull rested players against Everton in the Carling Cup on Wednesday and got tonked 4-0. Hunt and Geovanni have been in decent form, but the team’s been shipping goals; the 1-0 win over Bolton was Hull’s only clean sheet of the season. Here’s hoping Altidore starts – even though his pace could cause serious problems, he’s easily my favorite American player.
Liverpool players assuredly remember the aforementioned 2-2 draw. Liverpool was top of the league when that draw happened, and while it took a few weeks for the slide to truly start, it was the beginning of the iffy stretch that probably saw Liverpool lose the league. That should be motivation enough.