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Hull City AFC

Anfield, Liverpool

January 01, 2014; 15:00 GMT


Liverpool FC and Hull City AFC face off on New Year’s Day as both teams seek to start the second half of the season with a victory. While only a week ago Liverpool would have been clear favorites to win this one, a lot has changed since then. Liverpool have endured a torrid week where they lost to both Manchester City and Chelsea FC, and have also added new names to their injury list. Let’s not forget that Hull City dealt Liverpool a shock 3-1 defeat at the KC Stadium exactly one month ago. As it stands, Hull City have the psychological edge over a thinning Liverpool squad.

Liverpool FC v Hull City – Team News, Possible Line-ups,Tactics And Prediction - Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers is struggling with a small squad and a big injury list

Liverpool FC have bled points last week. After a stellar 2013 where they shattered expectations and spent a majority of the season breathing down the neck of Premier League table-toppers Arsenal (and some time above them too), they have fallen to a 5th place spot on the back of consecutive defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea FC. Besides these poor results, they also have to figure out a way to cope with a string of injuries to key personnel over the past month. The Chelsea defeat summed up just why, despite Liverpool spending nearly all of the season above them, Chelsea and Man City are still expected to be the frontrunners in the title race. Liverpool FC simply do not have the squad depth to cope with these sugar-daddy led clubs. It really says it all that Chelsea had the likes of Juan Mata, Fernando Torres and Andre Schurrle on their bench, while Liverpool had Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and a two teenagers from the Academy. Rodgers will try to add players in January, but he’ll have to manage with what he has for this fixture atleast.

Hull City AFC are having a fabulous season. There is really no other way to describe it. That the newly promoted side are sitting at 10th place at the halfway mark of the season is something the Hull City fans would be ecstatic about. Not to mention that they enter this game on the back of a 6-0 demolition of René Meulensteen’s Fulham. Hull City manager Steve Bruce deserves credit for bringing in players that have proven to be excellent value for money; Tom Huddlestone was purchased for a rumored £5.25m, George Boyd (who scored against Fulham) and Maynor Figueroa are free transfers, and Jake Livermore & Danny Graham have been taken on loan. Steve Bruce will want to carry forward the momentum built in the Fulham win, and what better way to do it than doing a double over this Liverpool side for the second time in 31 days.

Liverpool FC – Team News, Line-up and Formation

Liverpool’s list of injured players is the worst it has been all season: Daniel Sturridge, Jose Enrique, Jon Flanagan, Mamadou Sakho and Joe Allen will all sit out this game. This is an alarming prospect considering that, with the possible exception of Flanagan, each of these players is a serious contender for being first choice for their respective positions. Steven Gerrard has been chasing fitness and Rodgers has stated that he could be in contention for the Hull City game, but bringing the club captain back into the starting 11 before he’s completely ready would be too big a risk.

Liverpool FC v Hull City – Team News, Possible Line-ups,Tactics And Prediction - Does Rodgers have faith in Martin Kelly?

Does Rodgers have faith in Martin Kelly?

Because of injuries, there is a lack of clarity on how Brendan Rodgers will choose to line-up his team. Sakho’s injury means that Daniel Agger will get a chance to impress at his favored center-back position: against Chelsea he started as a left-back. Rodgers will hope that he would have retained his chemistry with center-back partner Martin Skrtel from 2 seasons ago, as Skrtel and Kolo Toure’s lack of co-ordination had played a fairly big hand in Liverpool’s last defeat to Hull City. At left-back, Rodgers can play Aly Cissokho or Glen Johnson; in the latter case he would have to play Martin Kelly at right-back. Seeing how Rodgers has time and again shown little faith in either Kelly or Cissokho, it is possible he could give a start to 19-year old Academy graduate Brad Smith. The Australian youngster made his first senior appearance as a substitute against Chelsea on Sunday. When he came on, Liverpool switched to a 3-man defence with Johnson and Smith as attacking wing-backs. It is unlikely he will use this system from the start against Hull though. Whenever he has made a 3-man defence work in the past he has used a high-intensity high-pressing game, something the players will not have the legs for after a hectic week. Also, the 3-man defence system was used by him to get the most out of the Luis Suarez- Daniel Sturridge partnership in the absence of creative midfielder Philippe Coutinho; Sturridge is out while Coutinho is available.

Rather the way to go (keeping in mind the lack of options) would be to use a 4-3-3, with Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson and Coutinho playing in the center of the park, while Raheem Sterling and Victor Moses play on the wings. The obvious worry here would be that Liverpool played a very similar system last time against Hull and lost, but the big difference this time around is the presence of Coutinho. The Gerrard-Lucas-Henderson midfield did not do enough to support Suarez, and he became regularly isolated up front. Philippe excels at sliding in through-balls in the final third, and this could prove to be the major difference from last time.

Liverpool FC Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Mignolet (GK); Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Smith; Lucas, Henderson, Coutinho; Moses, Suarez, Sterling

Liverpool FC v Hull City – Team News, Possible Line-ups,Tactics And Prediction

Hull City AFC – Team News, Line-up and Formation

Steve Bruce, along with Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez, is one of the few Premier League managers to have successfully used a 3-man defence regularly. While he dropped it for a 4-man back line against Fulham, he is likely to revert to it against Liverpool; especially considering how well it worked the last time these two teams met.

Liverpool FC v Hull City – Team News, Possible Line-ups,Tactics And Prediction - Steve Bruce will stick to a 3-man defence

Steve Bruce will stick to a 3-man defence

Bruce’s injury list includes Sone Aluko, Aaron McLean, Stephen Quinn and Robbie Brady. Barring Brady, Bruce has managing well enough without the others. In the 3-1 win over Liverpool, Brady had played on the left flank. But even this should not be too much of an obstacle: Bruce is likely to use Curtis Davies, Alex Bruce and James Chester in the back three, moving Figueroa to left wingback, just as he did in the 3-2 defeat to Manchester United.

The three-man defensive line has the additional benefit of allowing Steve Bruce to play both David Meyler (in central midfield alongside Livermore & Huddlestone) and Robert Koren (further forward, behind striker Yannick Sagbo). Both have been consistent performers this season. Furthermore, if Brendan Rodgers decides to use Philippe Coutinho on the left side of a 4-3-3, as he has in the last 4 games, it could be a fantastic opportunity for Ahmed Elmohamady to take advantage of whichever makeshift left-back is fielded by the Reds. Coutinho regularly fails to track back to aid in defence when played out wide, and the 26-year old Egyptian Elmohamady is a regular attacking threat with his dribbling (1.2 dribbles/ game) and ability to contribute in the final third (2 goals & 1 assist).

Hull City AFC Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-1-1): McGregor (GK); Chester, Davies, Bruce; Elmohamady, Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, Figueroa;  Koren; Sagbo

Match Facts

  • Liverpool FC (44) have scored exactly twice as many goals as Hull City (22).
  • Curtis Davies is the most aerially dominant player out of the two squads: he averages 4.3 aerial duels won per game. Liverpool’s best player in this department is Martin Skrtel, who averages 3.5.
  • Both team prefer to attack down their right flank, 40% of Liverpool’s attacks have come down that flank (against 31% from their left) while 43% of Hull City’s have been down the right (against 31% down the left).

Statistics Source: WhoScored

Player to Watch Out For

Tom Huddlestone (Hull City)

Tom Huddlestone has had one of those roller-coaster careers which are something of a common theme for English players: touted as ‘The Next Big Thing’ early in his career, burdened with unnecessarily large amounts of expectations, and then shunned for not meeting those expectations. But the midfielder seems to have moved past those years, and at 27 years of age, he is discovering what could be the best form of his life. Steve Bruce touted Tom’s performance against Fulham on Saturday as “a masterclass of how to play in midfield”, and indeed that isn’t that great a hyperbole. In that game, Huddlestone had more Key Passes than any other player (4), the highest number of accurate long balls (8), the highest number of attempted shots (5, though only one resulted in a goal) and the highest number of interceptions (7). For reference, these numbers are also individually higher than any player in the Chelsea – Liverpool game. If Tom serves up a similar kind of against Liverpool, he could lead Hull City to a magical season double over Liverpool on New Year’s Day.


Liverpool 2 – 1 Hull City

Liverpool FC v Hull City – Team News, Possible Line-ups,Tactics And Prediction - Anfield advantage for Liverpool

There’s nothing quite like a packed Kop singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to get you fired up for a game.

There’s nothing quite like a packed Kop singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to get you fired up for a game.

There’s nothing quite like a packed Kop singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to get you fired up for a game.

Hull City have been a strong vein of form recently, and Steve Bruce has already shown his competence in negating Liverpool’s attacking threat. With Liverpool’s line-up depleted from injuries, this could be the perfect opportunity for Bruce to bag some big game at the start of the New Year. However, one of the big reasons for Liverpool’s loss to Hull one month ago was complacency: something they will not suffer from this time around. The Liverpool players will be thirsting for some Tiger blood (no, we’re not referencing Charlie Sheen here), and the Liverpool’s legendary home support will be there as well. There’s nothing quite like a packed Kop singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to get you fired up for a game.

Blast from the past