The most important month in Liverpool's season, one that very well could define their standing in May, starts in the worst manner possible, with Hull City easing to a comfortable 3-1 win over an abject and disappointing Liverpool. All involved were to blame in what's easily their worst possible performance of the season. Nine from nine over the next three matches was the expectation, but Brendan Rodgers and his squad blew any possible chance of having that happen--along with creating momentum heading into the month's final two weeks--with their appalling output today.
Hull City 3: Livermore 20', Meyler 72', Skrtel (og) 87'
Liverpool 1: Gerrard 27'
Having done First Thoughts already, I'm not really inclined to comment much on what happened in terms of the goings-on of the match. In order, though, Hull scored, Liverpool scored, Victor Moses almost scored, Hull scored, Martin Skrtel scored for Hull. Then Hull should have scored again. Then it was over, and Liverpool were badly beaten and played off the pitch.
In between all that Liverpool looked lifeless and disaffected, failing to string together anything of note from open play and relying on bits of inspiration from nobody to create their chances. Steven Gerrard's free-kick was very good, it should be said, and the captain was generally not awful on a day when pretty much everybody else was. Jon Flanagan was okay, I suppose, and when he wasn't redirecting the ball into Liverpool's net for Hull, Skrtel looked like he knew both where he was and what his purpose was. Jon Flanagan was okay. The same cannot be said for the rest of Liverpool's eleven, spare Simon Mignolet, who once again deserved far better despite conceding three goals.
Starting from the top, Luis Suarez turned in what most agree was one of his worst performances in white/red/black/MagicEye, creating little that came off to positive effect and looking as though he'd have been thankful for a pen pal let alone an attacking partner. These numbers are not flattering:
Luis Suarez In Numbers: 67% pass accuracy, 0 take-ons, 0 tackles, 0 interceptions, 50% headed duel success & 0 chances created. Oh dear.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 1, 2013
Victor Moses and Raheem Sterling were similarly poor; neither has played much of late and thus would have deserved some respite had they not been so bad, but they were so bad and deserve the criticism. Fun that Rodgers decided to bring on Philippe Coutinho and Luis Alberto for them, not so fun that they came on to join a squad that had pretty much surrendered.
It doesn't get any better working back through the rest of the eleven, as Jordan Henderson had his least effective performance of the season and Lucas did little to speak of. Glen Johnson was an inexplicable hoof machine and looked as bad on the ball as I can remember, and Kolo Toure looked nervy throughout. And while Skrtel and Flanagan were serviceable at best, only the latter made a case to remain in the eleven on a day when so much of what Liverpool were set up to do just didn't work.
Which leads us to the manager, whose selection was a complete and utter failure. Against a side that was there to be dominated with patient buildup and smart possession, he decided to go with two wingers who haven't played recently and two central defenders that are the squad's weakest with the ball at their feet. Coutinho wasn't fit, which is fine, and Luis Alberto's played even less than Sterling or Moses, but Mamadou Sakho, Daniel Agger, Joe Allen, and Alberto all started on the bench, and all were arguably a better fit for this match than those who started in their respective positions.
Today was wrong in about every way possible, and Liverpool would do well to forget it so long as they learn from their innumerable mistakes today. They'll have to do so quickly with Norwich arriving at Anfield on Wednesday, as a failure to do so could turn December's make or break challenge into a wholly one-sided affair before it even gets started.