Why home comforts could prove decisive once again for Liverpool against Hull
For the extraordinary circumstances going on off the pitch at Hull City following their promotion back to the Premier League, it suffices to say that interim boss Mike Phelan, former assistant to Sir. Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, has done a sterling job. With two victories- including an opening day triumph over defending champions Leicester City- a draw and defeats against Manchester United and Arsenal in their opening five, it has been a reasonable start for a Tigers side that has made no summer signings to prepare for life in the top flight since promotion. Sitting 12th in the table, Phelan’s side will however have their work cut out again early this season, with a trip to Anfield to face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool this weekend.
After a difficult few years of transition since the dismissal of Rafael Benitez as Liverpool manager back in 2010, which has seen three managers come and go since, much of the former fear factor for other teams in the Premier League of going to Anfield has gradually been restored under former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp. The Reds have tasted defeat in a mere one of their last 14 games at home, their last defeat coming in a 0-1 reverse to Manchester United back in January, Wayne Rooney’s goal enough to earn the visitors the points.
It was the England skipper’s first goal at Anfield since 2005, and the only time Liverpool have failed to score at home under Jurgen Klopp’s tenure. Their home record however is imperious nonetheless, with the other 13 results yielding seven victories and six draws, including triumphs over Manchester City and Merseyside rivals Everton. With such a strong record under the watchful eye of the Kop, Klopp and his players will be looking to home comforts again to see off newly promoted Hull and continue to mount their assault on the Top Four.
They will of course be the heavy favourites to take the spoils on Saturday, but with four points accrued from their two away games so far, Hull’s form on the road is encouraging, and Mike Phelan will be looking for his side to take a leaf out of his former club’s book and shut out the Reds if they are to take anything from the game and aid their bid to stay in the Premier League.
The tendency that Hull have developed away from home recently is to leave it late, striking twice in the latter stages of the game to win at Swansea on Matchday II, before a stoppage time free-kick from Robert Snodgrass snatched a point at Burnley. How Phelan would love for a late goal here, but the key will be staying in the game until then. To their credit, Hull City in defence led by captain Curtis Davies, have been rather impressive. Their 4-1 home defeat to Arsenal last week remains the only occasion that the Tigers have conceded more than once this season.
They will however need to be at their best to get anything from the game. Liverpool hit four past defending champions Leicester in their last showing at Anfield, and followed up with a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge on the Friday Night showpiece in Matchday V; a night where skipper Jordan Henderson stood up to the plate by pulling a goal to remember out of his locker. With one defeat to their name so far in all competitions this season, Klopp’s Reds are bang in form, and with a comfortable win over the Foxes their only showing at home thus far in the new season, they will be lining the Tigers in their sights as they look for another win to maintain their momentum and please their home supporters.
Liverpool will be boosted also by Roberto Firmino’s return to fitness, whilst new signing Sadio Mané has been in immense form since his move to Southampton, as has Firmino’s compatriot Philippe Coutinho. With two wins, a draw and a defeat from four away games so far this season in the Premier League, Jurgen Klopp will be quick to stress the importance of maintaining a strong record at home and keeping Anfield a fortress. With Hull their opponents, Saturday will be an opportunity to make home comforts count once again, but they will be facing a spirited side who have a strong record in recent years over the Reds and will need to show professionalism over complacency to break down Phelan’s Tigers, and the Hull boss as a former Manchester United man would take no greater pleasure than foiling Liverpool in their charge for the summit.
A victory for the hosts is of course expected, but by no means guaranteed, particularly since Hull have enjoyed their games against Liverpool in recent years, with two wins and a draw from their last four Premier League meetings, which will provide Phelan’s side with heart heading into their difficult looking trip to Merseyside. The Tigers have only tasted defeat once at home against the Reds in the Premier League, and with a 0-0 draw the outcome the last time the sides met at Anfield, this may yet prove to be an interesting encounter, and we eagerly await the outcome.
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