31 December 2013

Liverpool v Hull 01.01.14

10am ET, live in the US on NBC Sports Live Extra

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)

Goalscorers (league):
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
Henderson Lucas
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.


Tom said...

I am scared for this game probably more so than the last two matches we lost. With how thin our squad is I don’t even have the ability to predict what the starting eleven will be against Hull, but I will take a stab at it…

Johnson Toure Skrtl Agger
Henderosn Coutinho
Sterling Suarez Alberto

I would like to see Lucas play more of a defensive role in the back, I think Henderson and Coutinho in the midfield to provide for Suarez. Considering the linkup between Suarez and Henderson so far this season this could over run Hull and with Coutinho playing close to Suarez. Sterling and Alberto can provide on the wing. I can’t think Cissokho can provide anything for Alberto so Agger would be a wiser choice for someone to aggressively move the ball down the flank.

Anonymous said...

51 Yellows in 12 matches. Sounds like a record to me. Not that I would know. An average of OVER 4 yellows per match! Hard to even imagine how this could be possible. 3 reds ain't too shabby neither. Pawson. Come on down.

We have to come to play tomorrow. 1st at Christmas to 5th at the turn of the year. A point below Everton after finishing below them for 2 years. 2 L's in a row. No Country for Old Men. Come on boys. Time to bring the heat.

No doubt Luis will show up with his A game and bang in a few or at least be the creator for a couple. Plenty of creativity at the top with Luis, Phil, Hendo, Alberto and most especially Sterling. He has to concentrate on that last touch that puts him in on goal. Don't touch it on too far out of easy reach. The rest is easy. Piece of cake really. It's just that final touch to put himself in. Have to keep the keeper out of the play.

Tomorrow either puts us on track to push on or drops us a place to 6th.

We'll look to strengthen in January. Probably in the £10 to £15 mil transfer fee range. £15 mil if we can pick up youth that can own a position with us for 10 years. I'm guessing FSG will be shopping at the £10 mil transfer fee range. The Willian types that command £35 mil fee and £10 mil annual salary are NOT the type of player we need. Way too expensive without being world class. Suarez, who is world class, is the minimum quality we need that should command an £8 to £10 mil salary. The bargains like Sturridge and Phil are out there and that's what we need to find. Quality and youth at reasonable prices.

Don't forget, their are 4 teams in the EPL with higher revenues than us. City, United, Chelsea, and Arsenal. Their annual revenues will be a minimum of £100 mil more than ours as long as we remain out of CL places. Even if we achieve CL, their financial resources are in another league. Just considering revenues. Add in the deep pockets of City's and Chelsea's owners and you're talking a different stratosphere. Those are the teams that San afford and justify the Willian types. Top £ but not quite world class.