Following another win in the EFL Cup at Derby County, which kept the good momentum going, Liverpool face Hull City in the Premier League, this weekend.
This will be only the second match Liverpool have played at Anfield, following the completion of the new stand and manager, Jurgen Klopp, has called for a ‘greedy, angry’ performance from his team. This is perhaps a reflection of how Liverpool slipped up at Burnley earlier this season, yet defeated the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, both away from home. Klopp, speaking at his pre-match press conference, also spoke about Liverpool struggling against teams who ‘park the bus’ and commented on how there was not much space available in the matches against Tottenham and Chelsea, yet the team played well and created chances.
You get the feeling Klopp has been pushing his players this week, preparing them mentally, as if they are playing Manchester United or Everton. In many respects, this is a bigger game and Klopp, judging by the way he has been talking, realises that and understands how crucial it is to play well and pick up 3 points. A defeat would lead to the same old questions about inconsistency against mid-table and lower teams and the German wants to avoid that, at all costs this season.
In terms of team news, Daniel Sturridge and Georginio Wijnaldum are doubtful and if the latter fails to make it, Emre Can could come into the midfield. Mamadou Sakho has returned to training but Klopp was quick to rule him out of contention for this game. The big question mark in terms of selection, seems to be in goal and Klopp has a decision to make between Liverpool’s regular goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet or new signing, Loris Karius, who impressed against Derby in mid-week.
By immediately dropping Mignolet for this game, surely the Belgian’s confidence would be destroyed for the remainder, of what is going to be a long season. However, can you afford to wait for a mistake, which could cost points, before choosing to go with Karius? It’s clear Karius is going to work his way into Liverpool’s Premier League starting XI but it may not be this weekend.
Hull arrive at Anfield, having defeated Stoke in the EFL Cup in mid-week but have failed to win a game at Liverpool, in their previous ten attempts. However, in two of their last four visits in the Premier League, they have held out for a 0-0 draw and perhaps this is the reason why Klopp is keen to wind the players and fans up, ahead of the match. Hull were picked apart at home by Arsenal last weekend and as a result, Mike Phelan will set his team up to defend, using Abel Hernandez as a lone striker up-front.
Therefore, the key for Liverpool is to get an early goal and take control of the match. Hull will have to come out and try and score a goal if they go 1-0 down, whereas the longer the match goes on at 0-0, the more confident they will become and the deeper they will defend. Make no mistake, this is not going to be an easy match but if Liverpool impose themselves on the game early, it will be impossible for Hull to hold out for 90 minutes at Anfield.
This is a massive match in terms of how the remainder of the season could play out and Klopp knows it. A good win for Liverpool here and thoughts will start turning towards the top of the Premier League table.