Liverpool 5-1 Hull City
Premier League, Anfield
September 24, 2016
Goals: Lallana 17′, Milner 30′ (pen), 71′ (pen), Mane 36′, Coutinho 52′; Meyler 51′
Liverpool produced exactly what Jurgen Klopp would have hoped for as they turned in a devastating display to rip the Tigers apart and seal victory.
In a breathtaking first half, Adam Lallana slotted the Reds ahead after 17 minutes, before James Milner’s penalty doubled the lead and Sadio Mane made it three to compound the visitors’ misery, who also had right-back Ahmed Elmohamady sent off.
David Meyler’s strike provided a ray of hope for Mike Phelan’s side, but Philippe Coutinho’s 25-yard stunner ended that once and for all a minute later, before a second spot-kick from Milner rounded off an emphatic victory.
Here are five talking points from Liverpool’s latest big win, including the benefits of their pressing game.
Klopp called on his side to be angry in the buildup to the game with Hull looking to steal the points—and his team vented that fury with a relentlessly aggressive and intense performance.
From the first whistle Liverpool hunted the Tigers to win possession, refusing to give them even a second to settle spearheaded by the tenacious Coutinho, Mane and Roberto Firmino, who were instantly backed up by Klopp’s marauding midfield trio.
Klopp’s men swarmed Hull, who had no way out or capability to contain the Reds with 11 men let alone 10, and the speed of pressing and also slickness, with the 74 percent possession enjoyed, was exhausting to even watch as Liverpool ran riot in a complete first-half display.
Liverpool’s tempo naturally dropped off a notch in the second period, such was their control of the game, but all afternoon the Reds were relentless in their pursuit of goals and victory, which came almost as a direct result of the intense pressure produced, first half especially.
Such speed and intensity could prove the difference for Liverpool this season, and when it’s produced to such devastating effect, it’s impossible to see how any opponents can live with it.
Liverpool Finding Welcome Consistency
Liverpool’s struggles to find consistency, undoing excellent results with sloppy displays, has been well documented in recent years.
But moving to a sixth game unbeaten with an excellent fourth victory in a row, the Reds are now overcoming the inconsistency demons that have proved problematic.
Victories in big games against rivals are of course crucial and certainly pleasing, but Saturday’s Hull thrashing is a genuine sign that progress is being made on this front and lessons have been learned since the shock Burnley lapse in August.
The Reds were absolutely controlled and confident in their approach, and even though early chances for Coutinho and Joel Matip went begging, the patience Klopp said was missing at Turf Moor was retained, the relentlessness of performance continued and the goals arrived.
Dejan Lovren, missing with a virus, explained pre-match that lessons had been learned with costly slip-ups—how right the Croatian was.
Liverpool’s vice-captain is an understated member of this potentially lethal team, but it was impossible to overlook his contribution at Anfield where he produced a superb display.
Scoring twice from the spot was the just reward for a performance that boasted everything Klopp wants from his players, with heart, desire, application and quality in abundance.
Milner provided the width and attacking outlet needed as a marauding influence on the left, constantly bursting forward to receive possession and looking to break in behind’s Hull’s right side to make for dangerous crossing and cutback situations.
The natural midfielder, who was also involved in the first goal, exchanging passes with Coutinho, played two key passes, completed four dribbles and scored with both of his shots on target—summing up his forward efficiency.
And defensively, Milner produced too—aside from needlessly conceding the corner from which Hull scored—providing an assured figure in his left-back role with some crunching tackles, including a vital one on Abel Hernandez early on.
Though not without his flaws, Milner continues to surprise with how well he’s playing at left-back, and long may it continue.
Competition For Places Hots Up
The emphatic win will show many features of this developing Liverpool side, and that includes the strength in depth of the squad.
A lethal starting lineup filled with strength, pace and creativity proved too much for Hull, but equally impressive was the level of talent Klopp had to call upon from the bench, which was one of the strongest named in years.
To be able to score five goals while holding the quality of Daniel Sturridge—and even Divock Origi—in reserve is quite something, as is being able to introduce the likes of Emre Can and Marko Grujic to give first-choice picks a rest, leaving the likes of Alberto Moreno and Lucas Leiva without match time.
And though Simon Mignolet rightly dropped to the substitutes, that Liverpool’s backup stopper is one who has been first choice for three seasons, and knows what to expect, is a huge upgrade on previous options Adam Bogdan and Brad Jones.
Liverpool’s squad is in the best place for a long time—a testament to Klopp’s work in building an adequate group as well as team—and though having had tough selection calls to make already this season, the Reds leader will certainly have some more to come.
Fortress Anfield Being Built
Winning just 18 of 38 Anfield games over the last two seasons, after recording victory in 16 of 19 in 2013/14, a crucial factor for Liverpool to improve this season is their home form.
After blitzing Leicester City in their maiden home clash, the Reds continued their impressive start to addressing those woes with another rampant performance which has now seen nine goals scored in two games in front of the home crowd.
Roared on by an extra backing from the new Main Stand, Liverpool ripped through their visitors with devastating effect on home soil for the second time this season as the Reds used home comforts just the way Klopp would want.
Anfield has proven too easy a place to play for visiting sides, but Klopp’s men have proven that anyone who rocks up in L4 will now face a huge test against a unified force from fans to players.
Klopp recently vowed to turn Anfield into a fortress following the official opening of the new stand. So far, so good.