Premier League / Anfield / Saturday, 25th October 2014
By Henry Jackson
Liverpool needed a good response following Wednesday’s 3-0 Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, and Brendan Rodgers made three changes to his side. Emre Can came in for the rested Jordan Henderson, while Javier Manquillo and Adam Lallana replaced Glen Johnson and Philippe Coutinho, respectively.
Hull made a confident start to the game, with Dejan Lovren forced into a good clearance inside his own six-yard box. There was a nervousness about the Anfield crowd.
Lovren almost opened the scoring after nine minutes, but his header was cleared off the line by Ahmed Elmohamady. The Croatian then saw his second attempt blocked and his third effort sail into the Anfield Road end.
The much-maligned Mario Balotelli then showed good movement before testing Eldin Jakupovic with a good strike from a tight angle. The Reds began to dominate proceedings.
The game went a little quiet midway through the first-half, with Rodgers’ side struggling to break down the visitors. Their general play once again lacked the tempo of last season, and barring a tame effort from Joe Allen, they were creating very little.
Lallana produced some good work down the left, and he could easily have had a penalty after being scythed down in the box. The 26-year-old struggled to impose himself on the game, however.
Jake Livermore forced Simon Mignolet into a comfortable save, Mohamed Diame shot wide and Tom Huddlestone’s effort deflected just past the post, as Hull ended the half well.
At the break it was goalless, and an improved performance was needed by Liverpool.
There were no changes to either side at the interval, as the Reds tried to break down Steve Bruce’s stubborn team. The second-half started with a very similar pattern as the first though.
Although Balotelli was far from poor, he was once again failing to add true class in attack. Raheem Sterling was also far from his best.
Abel Hernandez saw his fine long-range effort caught by Mignolet, while Steven Gerrard fired just wide at the other end. Philippe Coutinho and Rickie Lambert replaced Allen and Lallana on the hour mark.
Balotelli somehow didn’t divert a header in from a corner after 63 minutes, and Sterling’s shot from the edge of the box was saved by Jakupovic.
The Reds were all over Hull following the substitutions, with Coutinho making a big difference. It was still 0-0 with just 20 minutes remaining though, and the frustration among the fans began to build.
With 17 minutes left Lovren failed to connect with Balotelli’s square pass, and it just continued to feel like one of those days. Henderson was introduced, as Liverpool tried desperately to earn an ugly three points.
Gerrard almost bundled the ball home, Coutinho forced Jakupovic into a good save and Balotelli somehow didn’t win it, all in stoppage-tme, but Liverpool had to settle for a hugely frustrating draw. It was yet another below-par performance.
Man of the Match: Emre Can
Rodgers opted for a 4-3-3 formation, with Lallana to the left of the front three and Sterling to the right. Can and Allen showed fluency in the midfield, with Gerrard sat in his deep-lying role.
There wasn’t great fluency throughout though, and although things improved when Coutinho and Lambert came on, the return of Daniel Sturridge, allowing them to return to a 4-4-2 diamond, remains pivotal to Liverpool‘s hopes.
Liverpool:Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Gerrard, Can (Henderson 75), Allen (Coutinho 61), Lallana (Lambert 61), Sterling, Balotelli
Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Johnson, Markovic,
Hull City starting XI:Jakupovic, Bruce, Davies, Chester, Elmohamady, Huddlestone, Diame, Livermore, Brady, Ben Arfa, Hernandez.