On Saturday, Liverpool will host 12th-place Hull City A.F.C. at Anfield. These two teams last faced off in the Prem in the 2014-15 season, first splitting the spoils at Anfield in a 0-0 draw, and then Hull City taking three points at home later that season with a 1-0 victory.
Despite their success against Liverpool, Hull were relegated at the end of that season, and grabbed promotion at their first opportunity during the 15-16 season in the Championship.
Hull City This Year
Over the summer, Hull City were set to be acquired by a Chinese consortium before the deal fell apart. Steve Bruce, the club’s manager since 2012 resigned in July, leaving the club to pursue external options for their managerial vacancy.
The board could not persuade any of their targets to take over the team before the summer came to a conclusion, so they gave temporary managerial duties to then-assistant manager Mike Phelan. To add to that, they lost first-team players Michael Dawson, Alex Bruce and Allan McGregor to serious injuy in preseason friendlies. Oh, and the team was set to host reigning Premier League champions Leicester City on opening day. Welcome back, Hull City.
Despite all this, Hull's season could not have started any better, as they pulled off the shock upset and beat Leicester 2-1 before winning the following game 2-0 at Swansea. Phelan was named manager of the month of August after the club’s hot start and has since received an offer to become the permanent manager of the club.
Since then, Hull City have come down back down to earth a bit with defeats at Manchester United and at home against Arsenal and a draw against Burnley in between those two losses.
They might be newly promoted, but they've got a chance to beat anyone this year.
How Will they Set Up?
Hull have named an unchanged starting XI in all five premier league games this season, with Phelan setting his team up in a 4-3-3 formation. The attack is led by Robert Snodgrass, who leads the team with four goals in all competitions. Adama Diomande and Abel Hernandez have also led the line, with Hernandez playing through the middle and the other two on the flanks.
Beyond their attack, the Hull team-sheet is peppered with premier league experience as Long-time Premier League fans will recognize names like Curtis Davies, Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore and Ahmed Elmohamady in the Hull City squad.
How will Liverpool Set Up?
There appears to be no need to change the formation for Jürgen Klopp’s men, and a 4-3-3 is surely on the cards for this game. It is perhaps too soon for Loris Karius to supplant Simon Mignolet as the Liverpol No. 1, so the Belgian shot stopper will likely start.
Look for James Milner and Dejan Lovren to return to the back four after their evenings off during the EFL Cup. They should join Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to round out the Reds’ defense.
A similar midfield three to the one who started against Chelsea is likely for this game, and Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Giorginio Wijnaldum should all keep their spots.
Up top is where this gets interesting. Sadio Mané had the night off against Derby so he likely will get the nod. After that, it is probably a choice of two from Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Phillipe Coutinho. It will be a tough decision for Klopp, but my money is on Firmino and Sturridge getting the start.
Hull City have come up with some surprising results, so its no walk in the park for the Reds in this one. And given the pace that Manchester City have set so far this year, anything less than three points is unacceptable.
Kickoff is at 9 A.M. in Houston. Come on by the Gorgeous Gael and join the HoustonLFC members for the game!