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Last four head-to-head:
1-3 Hull (a) 12.01.13
0-0 (a) 05.09.10
6-1 Liverpool (h) 09.26.09
3-1 Liverpool (a) 04.25.09
Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-2 Chelsea (a); 1-2 City (a); 3-1 Cardiff (h)
Hull: 6-0 Fulham (h); 2-3 United (h); 1-1 West Brom (a)
Liverpool: Suarez 19; Sturridge 9; Gerrard, Sterling 3; Coutinho, Skrtel 2; Flanagan, Henderson, Moses, Sakho 1
Hull: Brady 3; Elmohamady, Koren, Livermore, Meyler, Sagbo 2; Aluko, Boyd, Chester, Davies, Fryatt, Graham, Huddlestone 1
Referee: Craig Pawson
Pawson became a Select Group referee this season. He's never done a Liverpool match before.
Guess at a line-up:
Johnson Toure Agger Cissokho
Sterling Coutinho L Alberto
So, who's left standing?
We can add Sakho and Allen to the already-too-extensive casualty list, joining Sturridge, Enrique, Flanagan, and maybe Gerrard. Now is the winter of my discontent. And Zaf Iqbal's by the looks of things. There's no rest for the weary.
But, yes, "maybe" Gerrard. He's been training this week, and his return would be incredibly timely given Allen's injury. But I still doubt Rodgers will bring him straight back into the lineup unless he and the medical staff felt certain there was almost no chance of reaggravation.
So that probably means Lucas and Henderson in midfield, with Coutinho playing ahead of them in his preferred #10 role. Sterling and Suarez will almost certainly take up two of the three attacking roles; I hoped we've learned enough from the Victor Moses experiment, especially given what we learned the last time these two sides met, allowing Luis Alberto to make his first Premiership start instead. There's also a small chance that Aspas could feature, either reverting to the 4-2-2-2 formation seen when both Suarez and Sturridge were available, or with Aspas on the right and Sterling on the left.
In addition to the aforementioned injuries, it'd be nice to give either Skrtel or Johnson a break. And by "break" I mean "make them go sit in the corner and think about what they've done over the last few matches." But thanks to those aforementioned injuries, sitting both of them doesn't seem an option. Johnson is the only right back available, as it doesn't appear that Martin Kelly counts anymore, so he pretty much has to play. However, there's a readymade replacement for Skrtel in Kolo Toure. Please use that readymade replacement. Did I mention that Liverpool haven't conceded a single goal when Toure and Agger were the center-back partnership, which happened in the first two matches of the season? I should probably mention that.
Hull, on the other hand, have an almost full squad to choose from. Robbie Brady's still struggling with a groin problem, Aluko's probably out for another month with a calf injury, but that's about it.
As has become usual this season, Steve Bruce seemingly has two options. Option A: the same system which frustrated Liverpool a month ago, using five at the back. Option B: keeping the faith with the 4-2-3-1 formation and XI which saw Hull put six past Fulham on Saturday. Option A would most likely be McGregor; Elmohamady, Chester, Davies, Figueroa, Boyd; Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler; Koren, Sagbo. Maybe Figueroa at left wing-back, with Bruce as center-back. Option B would see either Meyler or Koren dropped for Rosenior, ostensibly coming in at right back, with Elmohamady and Boyd playing much further up the pitch.
I'd be very surprised if Bruce went with Option B, no matter the temptation to stick with a winning side. Hull have almost always lined up with three at the back against the top teams in the division, and that formation worked near-flawlessly against Liverpool last month.
Liverpool started December against Hull, and incurred a 1-3 loss in pathetic fashion. Liverpool now start 2014 against the same opposition, but this time at Anfield, needing to make amends for the horrific performance 31 days ago, and needing to put the last two matches as far from memory as possible.
It's a new year, after all.