The Bib Theorists

Chris Dickinson previews Liverpool’s first game in December as they make the trip to Hull to take on Steve Bruce’s Hull City Tigers in what could be a pivotal game in their quest for Champions League football.

Chris gives us his score prediction, his predicted line-ups and a few betting tips.

The first of Liverpool’s festive fixtures kicks off away against 13th placed Hull at the KC stadium. Coming off the back of the most entertaining Merseyside derby in decades, Liverpool will aim to return to Anfield with a similar goal haul to the one they achieved at Goodison Park; but simultaneously will be aiming to keep only a second clean sheet in 8 matches.

This feat is more likely to be achieved against a Hull side who have conceded 15 goals in 12 appearances this season. Hull, currently the highest placed promoted side this season, are a well-disciplined side; although it is unlikely they will be able to stop Liverpool’s talismanic striker Luis Suarez from increasing his 9 league goal haul – the same as the whole Hull side have managed combined.

Liverpool, however have had a late setback with current joint top goal-scorer Daniel Sturridge reported to have left Melwood on crutches with suspected ligament damage; which could put the Englishman on the sidelines anywhere between one week and ten depending on the severity.

It’s a big blow for the Anfield outfit ahead of the busy Christmas schedule, as the dynamic duo had managed to score 18 league goals between them this season, despite Suarez missing the first five league games.

Iago Aspas’s return from injury seems timely with Sturridge out; although it is unlikely he will make an immediate return to the side to partner Suarez after only returning to full training on Friday.

Rumour has it that Liverpool’s mercurial Brazilian, Philippe Coutinho, will only be fit enough to start on the bench, which could open up the door for another midfielder to come in and stake their claim for a regular starting berth. The most likely candidates would be: Joe Allen, Victor Moses or Luis Alberto, depending on the formation Rodgers selects.

With Jose Enrique ruled out with injury for 10 weeks, it is likely that Jon Flanagan will retain his place in the side at left-back ahead of loanee Aly Cissokho after impressing in the Merseyside derby last weekend.

£18m Mamadou Sakho won’t be content with an extended run on the bench, but it is also rumoured he will not make a return at the heart of defence, despite Liverpool conceding three goals without him in the side against Everton.

Hull also have defensive concerns of their own with Paul McShane ruled out due to a torn Hamstring in their last outing against Crystal Palace. His defensive partner Curtis Davies also picked up an injury in that game, but is likely to recover in time to start.

It’s hard to predict anything other than a convincing Liverpool victory, however especially with both January signings Sturridge and Coutinho unfit to start; there should be no complacency ahead of the encounter as Steve Bruce won his last encounter against Liverpool with Sunderland, courteous of a deflected beach-ball goal.

A similar stroke of fortune would surely see Liverpool’s grasp on second place relinquish, with Manchester City playing Swansea at The Etihad in the same gameweek. However, this is a perfect opportunity for Liverpool to strengthen their impressive league standing ahead of a home encounter with strugglers Norwich and if history is anything to go by, Liverpool are guaranteed at least a point as Hull have never beaten Liverpool in their previous 16 attempts.

Predicted lineups:

Hull: McGregor; Elmohamady, Davies, Bruce, Figueroa; Huddlestone, Koren, Livermore, Boyd; Brady, Sagbo.

Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Toure, Agger, Flanagan; Lucas, Gerrard; Henderson, Allen, Moses; Suarez.

Predicted score: 3-1.

Betting tips:

Liverpool to win both halves is 11/8 with BetVictor and with the Anfield outfit excelling in the first 45 minutes of games thus far, it would be difficult to look past them winning in both halves. To bet on this market with BetVictor

Luis Suarez is priced at 16/1 to score a hat-trick and after terrorising Premier League defences since his return from suspension, a hat-trick isn’t out of the question. To bet on this market with BetVictor

Lucas Leiva is likely to start again in midfield and is also well priced at 8/1 to pick up the first yellow card of the game with BetVictor and after already missing a game this season through yellow card accumulation; this could be a nice little earner. To bet on this market with BetVictor

Over 3.5 goals is also well priced at 23/10 and could well be achieved if Suarez and Sturridge relight their explosive partnership as is expected on Sunday afternoon. To bet on this market with BetVictor

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