Mike Phelan would know all about the sheer power that Anfield exudes, with him visiting on match days vs bitter rivals, Manchester United. Now, at the helm of Hull, he comes back to a reinvigorated Liverpool outfit and stadium with new players and a new main stand that him and his team has to contend with.
Here are three burning questions that Mike and his lads would need to answer when they go head to head with the giants of the English game.
#1 Can Clucas And Meyler Cast A Disappearing Spell On El Magico?
Phil Coutinho has the world at his feet. There are very few inconceivable things, the Brazilian can’t conceive, which made the Anfield faithful think he’d be the perfect fill-in for the outgoing Luis Suarez. Two years since, the crowd tick in through the turnstiles at Anfield, still waiting, still anticipating a series of performances that’d truly establish the 24-year-old as one of Liverpool’s creative tour de force. That hasn’t come by yet.
He’s known as the lil’ guy for the big occasions – putting on his dancing shoes, demanding the limelight against the biggest clubs of them all, scoring worldlies from 35 yards out, or conjuring up a passage of play out of nothing, that leaves the opposition hapless, and with no answer to the riddles he poses. But come up against the blue-collared rigours of teams that fight for survival, he puts on his invisible cloak more often than not.
Liverpool fans don’t know why it is, that someone who is capable of channeling manna from the heavens through his boots, can look so plebian. However, there seemed to be a shift in the apparent trend, when he was set out among the Rams, leading Derby to slaughter.
Samuel Clucas and David Meyler will have to ensure that, like many occasions in the past, that that game was just an anomaly for El Magico. If they fail to do so, Phil and his cohort, Bob [Firmino] the Brazilian, may do some very serious damage.
#2 Can Andrew Robertson Put On A Show For His Suitors?
It’s no secret that Hull’s left-back Andrew Robertson has been turning heads. Liverpool would know all about the Scotsman’s ability, tabling an offer for him this past summer, before pulling out, unsure if the defender was worth the overlay that was demanded. This game will provide ample viewing if the hosts were right to think so, with a rip-roaring Sadio Mane looking to test the 22-year-old to the hilt. The Senegalese international, who should be in line to win the African Player Of The Year if he keeps up with the expectations he has set for himself, has been sublime, effortlessly breaking through the other side, evading challenges and tackles like hurdles, and making inroads into opposition defences with utter disdain.
No one has yet proved to be worthy enough to stop this footballing force of nature; but, then again, you know what Scotsmen say: “Whaur’s the wattrie? See me? See eels? Mah hoavercraft’s pure hoachin.”
#3 Can Snodgrass Make The Most Of Boring James Milner?
Boring, boring James Milner has been doing a rather boring job at left-back to the collective surprise of Liverpool fans everywhere. He’s played left-back, the former England international without so much as an own goal, or a stray tackle that resulted in a red, in other words, nothing remotely eventful. And that’s a good thing.
The hustling Robbie Snodgrass, who looks like he’s in the form of his life, will look to rustle the pristine feathers of James Milner, and provide a cause for a few flutters among the Anfield faithful.
Jon Depp (JD)
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