Hull City-Liverpool Preview
Fresh from their Champions League demolition at the hands of Real Madrid, Liverpool will be looking to make it three domestic wins in a row as they welcome Hull City to Anfield on Saturday.
Liverpool (4-1-3) scored twice in added time to rescue a win against Queens Park Rangers last weekend, but the defensive weaknesses exposed in that game were ruthlessly punished by a destructive Real Madrid on Wednesday night. Three first-half goals gave the Spaniards a cushion to ease off in the second half and prepare for their weekend meeting with Barcelona, and while Rodgers was happy to look at the positives, he was also keen not to brush over the defensive problems that put his team three goals down.
"At 3-0 at half-time, you're certainly playing for pride, but we're also about performance and going into the second half, it was about controlling and dominating the ball a wee bit more while also being more aggressive in our actions defensively," Rodgers said. "The players responded magnificently in the second half. We had a spell of 20 minutes leading into half-time in which we defended poorly and they have got top, world-class players that were very, very effective.
"It was a huge credit to my players that they kept going right until the very end. Their efforts and commitment in the game were first class, but that period before half-time cost us."
Mario Balotelli was taken off at halftime against Real and has been on the receiving end of a barrage of criticism for swapping his shirt after such a disappointing first 45 minutes. However, with Daniel Sturridge still out injured, the Italian is expected to stay in the starting lineup for Saturday's match.
Steve Bruce's Hull City (2-4-2) conceded a last-minute equaliser to be held to a 2-2 draw by Arsenal last weekend, but have impressed with just two defeats in their opening eight games.
Bruce had an active summer transfer window, heavily strengthening a squad that eased to safety and reached the FA Cup final last season. Uruguay striker Abel Hernandez was the headline addition from Palermo, and the striker bagged his third goal for the club in the draw with Arsenal to continue his impressive start to life in the English top flight.
"I am very happy and it has been like a dream so far," Hernandez said. "Hull City is a very good club and I am proud to be a part of it. It is a very happy group and we have a very good manager and coaching staff. We've had some good results so far, but we know it could have been better.
"To score early in my career here was very important for me in terms of settling in and I hope to score more to help the team."
Hernandez is likely to lead the line on his own against Liverpool, with fellow centre-forward Nikica Jelavic ruled out for six weeks with a knee injury. Hull are also without summer additions Michael Dawson (ankle) and Ryan Snodgrass (knee), while there could be a problem for the Tigers between the sticks with Steve Harper a doubt and Allan McGregor definitely out with a shoulder injury.
Liverpool's injury problems are at the back, with Mamadou Sakho (hip) and Jon Flanagan (knee) out.
Rodgers' side won 2-0 on New Year's Day in this fixture last season, but were beaten 3-1 when they traveled to Humberside in 2013. Liverpool have won three of the six league meetings with Hull, outscoring them 14-7 in those matches.