Hull City-Liverpool: How to Unlock the Opposition
Barney Corkhill (the Liverpool Community Leader here on B/R) and I have been discussing the important fixture this weekend between Liverpool and Hull City at the Kingston Communication Stadium.
It's a game of vital importance for both teams. For the Tigers, a victory will mean almost certain survival, and for Liverpool, it will be the chance to keep on track for that elusive Premier League title.
With this in mind we looked at just how our teams would be able to unlock each other's defence. This is our opinions.
How Hull City can unlock Liverpool, by Carolina Tiger.
Ricketts, Turner, Zayette, Dawson
Mendy, Barmby, Geovanni, Fagan
The formation is 4-5-1, but with Boateng sitting as a sweeper and Barmby as the link man between the sole striker and the midfield to follow up on any loose balls.
This has the added advantage that if it all goes pear-shaped, then we can revert to a classic 4-4-2.
In the earlier game this season at Anfield, the Liverpool defense looked decidedly shaky, especially on their left, where Dossena was outclassed totally by Bernard Mendy, the French International. Dossena was made to look pedestrian for pace and third rate as a defender by the mercurial winger.
Unfortunately, for the Tigers that day Paul McShane had to leave the field necessitating Mendy reverting to a role of right back and nullifying the threat down the Liverpool left. If the Tigers are to get anything from this game, Mendy has to exploit the lack of pace in the Liverpool defence.
Aggar has replaced Dossena at the back for Liverpool since the last meeting but with Aggar, Carragher, Arbeloa and Hyppia in the back four for the Reds there is still a lack of true pace for the Reds.
If Mendy and Fagan are used out wide with Barmby and Geovanni able to pass the ball out wide to the men with speed then they Tigers could turn the Liverpool defence to great effect.
Our weakest link would be the lack of a striker. Manucho, on loan from Manchester United, has not been very productive, despite being our only goal scorer for weeks. He is easily knocked off the ball for all his appearance of strength.
Phil Brown will be hoping that Daniel Cousin, the Gabon International Striker, will be fit as he is better at holding up the ball and fighting off a challenge. He has a better temperament for the big game.
Having scored in Old Firm games whilst at Rangers. Cousins' strength at holding the ball allows the cunning Barmby to latch onto anything knocked down in the box.
The loss of Gerrard for the game is a big plus of the Tigers, as he was the lucky recipient of two very dubious goals to help Liverpool to an undeserving draw at Anfield.
His absence for the return fixture is good for the Hull City midfield who will not have the services of our own Captain Ian Ashbee due to suspension. It is not just Gerrard's great goal scoring ability that Liverpool will miss but his leadership as well.
Above all else, we need to show no fear.
How Liverpool can unlock Hull City, by Barney Corkhill.
Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio
Xabi Alonso, Mascherano
Kuyt Gerrard Benayoun
I expect Rafa Benitez to stick to his preferred formation of two defensive midfielders and a man (hopefully Gerrard if he is fit) off Torres.
Liverpool's recent goalscoring form has been phenomenal, and Hull will have to find a way of stopping that to get anything from the match, as I can't see them doing what Chelsea and Arsenal did in matching Liverpool's scoring.
If Steven Gerrard plays, I'm not sure whether to expect the scoring rate to increase, due to him being a decided goal threat, or decrease because he would calm things down if they got too frantic, as they did on Tuesday.
Due to his performance against Arsenal, I expect Benayoun to play again, and if he has another game of that calibre, I can envisage him opening up the Hull defence on numerous occasions, creating chances for himself, Torres, and Gerrard.
Should Gerrad not play, I'd expect Benayoun to fill in behind Torres with Riera on the left.
The match between these two back in December came at a time when Hull were in great form, and still riding the wave of momentum they got from being promoted.
Now, however, they are in poor form, while Liverpool are in great form. Alonso and Mascherano have become experts at winning the ball then distributing it well. If anything gets past them, then Carragher and Skrtel, or perhaps Daniel Agger, will be ready to mop it up.
Despite the mistakes against Arsenal on Tuesday, I can't see the Liverpool defence having too much trouble from Hull's attack, as it doesn't seem to be firing on all cylinders at the moment. As Carolina mentioned, however, there is a lack of pure pace there, and we may be vulnerable to Hull's wide threat.
Carragher and Skrtel/Agger should be able to cope with most of the high balls in the air, but all they need is for one to get through and we could have lost the game.
Aurelio and Arbeloa will have to be alert to the threats of Hull's wide men, especially if and when they go bombing forward to join the attack.
Saying that, I do expect the majority of the game to be played inside Hull territory, and the defence will have to be on their toes if they want to stop Torres adding to Liverpool's 27 goals in eight games.
We have scored four against Blackburn, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and against Arsenal without Steven Gerrard so, if he is ruled out, I don't think it will have too much of an effect on the team.
It may be that Benitez chooses to start him on the bench, bringing him on as a sub so he can get some minutes under his belt.
Overall, I don't think Liverpool will have nearly as much trouble as they did back in December. It may be at the KC Stadium, but with Liverpool knowing they need a win to stay in the title race, I can't see past a win for the away team.
I predict either 3-1 or 4-1 to Liverpool, and can see the match going a similar way to the Blackburn one.
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