Liverpool F.C. 5 - 1 Hull City A.F.C.

Anfield was bouncing late Saturday evening after the irresistible Reds ran rampant against the hapless Hull City Tigers. Jürgen Klopp's men executed the game plan so well that veteran Hull center-back Curtis Davies remarked after the game, "They didn't give us chance to breathe." 

Adam Lallana put in one of his best performances in a Liverpool shirt, offering a constant option for his teammates, triggering the stifling Liverpool press, and always threatening in the box. Philippe Coutinho was also vibrant throughout, and showed technical ability that made him unplayable at times. 

Those two combined to open the scoring in the 17th minute, when Coutinho took a pass in stride from the left side, dipped his shoulder and left the Hull player marking him in the dust. His slick dribbling took him into the 18-yard box, where he squared the ball to Lallana. With a quick turn and brilliant side-footed effort, Lallana caught Hull goalkeeper David Marshall off guard and the ball had enough pace to find the back of the net. 

Liverpool took 32 shots throughout the 90 minutes, 12 of which were on target. One of the shots, fired in by Philippe Coutinho, was handled by Ahmed Elmohamady on the goal line late in the first half. Sadio Mané got in behind the Hull City back line on the right hand side and his cross into the box was met by Coutinho, who attempted to find the net with a powerful right-footed effort.

For his goal-saving heroics, Elmohamady was quickly rewarded with a red card from match referee Andre Marriner, and James Milner coolly slotted home the ensuing penalty, to make it 2-0 in the 31st minute. 

Liverpool were flying from the start, but when Hull went down to 10-men, the team found all the space it needed to completely dominate the rest of the game to the tune of 74% possession.

Milner was active down the left side often throughout the game, starting the offensive move that led to Lallana finding Sadio Mané in the middle of the Hull City area. The lightning-quick Senegalese winger promptly spun and fired into the goal to extend the Liverpool lead to 3-0 after 37 minutes.

After the break, Hull City pulled one back from a set piece. Milner, who is still learning his trade at left back, could not control a wayward cross and his poor touch with nobody around gifted the opposition a corner-kick. The Reds failed to make a clearance on the ensuing kick and David Meyler, who was first to react, finished from point-blank range.

The Anfield crowd of 53,109 did not have to wait long for a response. Less than a minute later, Coutinho took two touches from a Lallana pass and fired an unstoppable blistering effort into the corner of the Hull goal to make it 4-1. 

Second-half substitute Daniel Sturridge dribbled past a few Hull defenders and was taken down in the box for Liverpool's second penalty of the game. Milner stepped up again and rolled the ball into the same corner as he did previously to make it 5-1 and complete the scoring for the home team. 

Liverpool certainly looked unstoppable on the day, and the three points earned at home moves them into the top four early on in the Premier League season.

Adam Lallana and Fluid Football

When Liverpool paid upwards of £35 million for Sadio Mané this summer, an audible groan could be heard from Liverpool fans and the phrase “Another one from Southamption?” was muttered over and over.

Indeed, since the summer of 2014, Liverpool have purchased no fewer than five players from the Saints on the south coast for a total value of just under £100 million. You forgot about Ricky Lambert, didn’t you?

Southampton have put together really competitive teams the last few seasons and even finished ahead of Liverpool in the Prem last year and two points behind the Reds the season before. So why the bad attitude towards players who once called Saint Mary’s Stadium home?

Leave Ricky Lambert out of this; his move was a rather odd one and he was never expected to be a contributing member of the starting XI.

After a slow start, Dejan Lovren looks to have established himself as first-choice center-back in Jürgen Klopps defense, and many fans are happy with his contributions from last season.

Nathaniel Clyne made more than 50 appearances for Liverpool last season, his first at the club. FIFTY. In one season. Anyone would be hard pressed to find a player who can match the consistent quality Clyne delivers on a weekly basis.

That leaves Adam Lallana. The childhood Everton fan who developed at the famed Saints Academy arrived at Melwood in July of 2014 for a fee of around £25 million. He missed the first few games of the 2014-15 season with a knee injury, and was thrust directly into the role of attacking winger, often on the right side by Brendan Rodgers.

Lallana drew the ire of many Liverpool fans thanks to his lackluster goal return, despite the fact that his goals/game average in the Premier League had been virtually the same at Liverpool as it was at Southampton.

For many fans, the arrival of Mané meant that Lallana would be dropped to the bench and could be sold the next time the Reds received an offer that matched their valuation of him. Shockingly, the exact opposite has occurred.

Lallana has been dropped, but not from the team. He’s been dropped into the middle of a midfield three; perhaps the best tactical decision Klopp has made in his tenure at Liverpool.

After the much anticipated “first preseason” with the German, Lallana finds himself the lynchpin of Klopp’s fluid pressing system and is perhaps the first name on the team sheet every week.

In a team that leads the league every week in distance covered, Lallana is consistently at the top of the list. His ability to keep and pass the ball has been vital to Liverpool’s offense this season. And perhaps most importantly, Lallana has been involved in the goals.

In six Premier League games this season, Liverpool have scored 11 goals from open play. Lallana is joint-team leader with three goals and the team leader with three assists. Nobody has been more influential in finding the net. Not Philippe Coutinho, not Roberto Firmino, not Daniel Sturridge.

Lallana is the embodiment of Klopp’s fluid football. He is the shuttling box-to-box midfielder that leads the press, the creative, visionary number 10, and the ruthless scorer capable of finding the net in 100 different ways all wrapped into one.

One of the biggest scapegoats from the Liverpool squad that finished last season in 8th place has become one of its most important pieces. And so far this year, as Lallana goes, Liverpool goes. 


Reds thrash Rams in EFL Cup

Liverpool F.C. Cruise to 3-0 victory, Face Tottenham in Round of 16

Before Derby County and Liverpool met on Tuesday night at the iPro Stadium in Derbyshire, they were clearly two clubs headed in opposite directions.

The hosts, Derby County began the season with high expectations, but find themselves near the bottom of the table in the early stages of their Sky Bet Championship campaign, and hadn't won a game in their last five prior to Tuesday.

On the other side, Jürgen Klopp's men, who ended last season's league campaign with a whimper, have been mildly overshadowed in the media this summer by the arrivals of big-name coaches and players at their rivals. 

Though it hasn't been without its bumps so far (see: Burnley), Liverpool have mostly played the kind of inspirational football that led to a 5-0 drubbing of Burton in the team's first EFL Cup match and see them just five points behind Premier League leaders, Manchester City.

For these reasons, the casual observer might be right in saying that the score line was expected. However, it's important to not underestimate what this performance means in the context of the rest of Liverpool's season.

Many clubs use the EFL Cup to work on the parts of their squads or tactics that don't get the needed attention in training or the Premier League. If Klopp drew up a list of goals to accomplish this game, it probably would have looked something like this:

Win, and Win Convincingly

Everything Klopp has worked on with his team this offseason seems to revolve around one major intangible: confidence. Confidence in individual ability. Confidence in the idea that teammates will be where they're supposed to be. Confidence that no matter the opposition, Liverpool have the quality to run any team ragged.

Over the past few seasons, Liverpool fans have learned to hold their breath in these kinds of cup fixtures. In 2012-13, the Reds went out in the fourth round of both the FA Cup and League Cup against Oldham and Swansea respectively. It took a THIRTY-penalty shootout for Liverpool to get past Middlesbrough in the third round of the 2014-15 League Cup. Last season, the Reds needed to win in penalties to scrape by Carlisle United at home in the third round of the League Cup. Just a few months later, they were forced into a replay after a draw at Exeter City in the third round of the FA Cup, before getting bounced by West Ham in the fifth.

It could have been very easy for the team to lack confidence going into this game against an underachieving Derby side looking to jump-start their season with a big win. From the start, however, it was obvious that this team wasn't the same as those that had come up short against lesser opposition in the past.

Philippe Coutinho was influential throughout, proving too much for the Derby defense to handle with his magical technical ability and brilliant movement. It was his corner led to Ragnar Klavan's first ever goal in a Liverpool shirt in the 24th minute to open up the game's scoring.

The Reds had many more chances in the first half and should have capitalized on at least one more occasion as Divock Origi pounced on a mistake by Derby leading to a break, but just took too long on the ball with Roberto Firmino in on goal to his right.

Shortly after the break, in the 50th minute, Coutinho made it 2-0, with a calm shot low and to the keeper's right after combining with Firmino through the middle on a quick 1-2 at the top of the Derby box.

The Reds put the game to bed just four minutes later when Coutinho played a perfectly weighted ball down the right side of the Derby penalty area, but left Origi with a tight angle beat the goalkeeper. And beat the goalkeeper he did with a cool and collected first-touch finish into the roof of the net. The kind of finish that makes fans want to see more of the man who inspired so much confidence last year.

The game was effectively over by the 54th minute, meaning Klopp could put a check mark in the box for goal number 1.

Get Divock Origi out of his funk

The 21-year-old Belgian attacker was a revelation after Klopp took over in Liverpool last season, and was often the first-choice striker ahead of Daniel Sturridge. So far this season, it's been a different story for Origi and the charismatic German gaffer has commented on him "being out of rhythm" Sometimes players, especially younger players, have to play their way into form.

In 90 minutes on the pitch Tuesday night, Origi showed signs of doing just that. During the first half, he looked as though he was struggling for form and confidence in the same way he had in his previous appearances this season, highlighted his missed opportunity to find Firmino on the break. 

The second half was a much different story. It was obvious that a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders when the ball hit the net for his goal in the 54th and he played the rest of the game with the swagger and confidence he seemed to have lacked so far in the young season.

Though the result was never in doubt on Tuesday night, there will come a time this year when Liverpool will need to call on Origi to step up and produce. A performance like this one could be instrumental in insuring he's ready to answer the bell. Check number two on Klopp's list.

Build Match Fitness

They will not play as many games this year as they did last year, but Liverpool will need a full squad to meet their expectations this season. This game was an opportunity to give players coming back from injury much needed playing time so they can be ready when called upon

Loris Karius, who some believe should be starting over incumbent goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, made his competitive debut for Liverpool after being sidelined for almost two months with a broken hand. He had little to do on the night, but looked assured in goal and made an excellent slide-tackle 25 yards from his goal to break up a Derby counter right before halftime.

Danny Ings returned to the squad after a lengthy sideline stint with a torn ACL and looked lively in his 30-minute substitute appearance. Though clearly down the pecking order in terms of strikers at the club, Ings could play a vital role in several games this season.

Emre Can also continued his comeback from injury with 35 minutes of tidy football in his substitute appearance. His presence in the center of the park was a welcome sight even though he might not walk back into the starting XI given the form of the current midfield three (that's a good thing).

That's three check marks for three goals on the night for Jürgen Klopp. A successful evening all around and one that can only bring more confidence to an already-bubbling team.