“Last week, against Arsenal, we had 10 men but it was different,” began Hull City captain Curtis Davies after his side’s 5-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday afternoon. “We kept hold of the ball. But Liverpool, with their pressing, they weren’t going to be satisfied with 3-0 or 4-0 or scoring five.
“They wanted six, seven, eight. That’s the difference. Arsenal were like, ‘We will sit, we will let them have the ball, and then we will have it for another five minutes.’ Liverpool don’t give you a chance to breathe. Arsenal are a very good passing team, but a lot of their stuff is in front of you, nice little passes.
“Liverpool have that mix of nice passes and then people who will run and run at you, and people who will beat you as well—like Mané, like Coutinho. When we went down to 10, if I’m being honest, as a Liverpool player I would have been thinking, ‘We can give them a hiding.” And they were ruthless.”
Ruthless Liverpool. It has a nice ring to it, or at least will have for Liverpool fans, who have spent far too long fearing bottom half opponents. This past week, though, a dismantling of Derby County in the EFL Cup and then Saturday’s 5-1 thumping of Hull will have many feeling downright bullish.
Liverpool are a side that has always been able to raise themselves for the big occasion. For a match against a Chelsea or Everton or Manchester United. It has been in the games everyone expects them to win where there have tended to be problems; where they have too often shown a tendency to stumble.
They headed into Saturday’s match with Hull City, though, in an aggressive mood—manager Jürgen Klopp had talked about the three points being theirs, and that the players needed to start the match angry at their opponents for even having the nerve to show up to try to take them. It seemed to work.
“When you play against a Liverpool team that is vibrant, exciting, and enjoying itself it’s tough,” added Davies. “They’re a side which literally plays with Henderson and the two centre halves, and the rest go wherever they want. It’s not ill-discipline—it’s organised. The interchanging, the good football, the passing.
“They are a very, very tough team to deal with on their game. When there is so much inter-changing you cannot put a mark on one person. It’s tough to try and get in and try and make a tackle which makes them think again because literally one second Mane will be in that hole, then Lallana, and then Coutinho.”
Next up, then, is another chance to be angry; another bottom half side that will be looking to steal Liverpool’s points. Liverpool face Swansea City before the October international break, and another performance like Saturday’s might have fans believing that this really is a new Liverpool side.
Because if Klopp has taught his team to press and attack and fight against bottom half opponents the way Liverpool have always been able to press and attack and fight against the top sides, it could be the start of a special season for the Reds—and a difficult year for anyone having to face them.