Liverpool vs. Hull Preview and Gamethread

Scheduled as part of the Peter Gulacsi to Hull City loan, this friendly will likely be the first time that new signings Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson are on the pitch in Liverpool kits.  Hull City finished 11th in the Championship a year after being relegated from the Premier League (perhaps most memorable to my fellow Americans for having Jozy Altidore on loan) and will likely provide a greater test to Liverpool than the teams they played in Asia.

Given the nature of the match, it's impossible for me to take any sort of guess as to what players will start the game.  However, look for the players who didn't play in Asia to get time.  These include Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, Doni, and Glen Johnson.  Lucas has returned, but per a tweet from him to Dirk Kuyt, won't return to training until next week.  Luis Suarez is, unfortunately, still playing in the Copa America, and Steven Gerrard is still struggling to overcome groin surgery.  I'd love to see lots of playing time for players like Raheem Sterling and Conor Coady, but given how bloated the squad is right now, this is unlikely to happen.  There has been much speculation as to a move for Alberto Aquilani to Fiorentina, and if he doesn't play it may mean that another loan or permanent move is imminent.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to watch for will be the formation Liverpool use.  After mostly using a 4-4-2 that was effectively a 4-3-3 with Meireles tucked in on the left and Kuyt playing forward on the right, Dalglish has switched Liverpool back to more of the 4-2-3-1 shape that Rafa Benitez favored in both friendlies so far this pre-season.  I'd love to see us continue with either the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 as we have the personnel for either.  The Reserves and all levels of the Academy play a very fluid 4-2-3-1, which means it's likely that it will still be our formation of choice.

The one Hull City player Liverpool fans will want to keep an eye on is Peter Gulacsi.  The Hungarian has performed excellently for Liverpool Reserves, and at the youth international stage.  After Brad Jones went on loan in the 2nd half of last season, Gulacsi took over the back-up role to Pepe Reina.  With the signing of Doni, this will let Gulacsi gain valuable experience.  It's likely that we'll never see Gulacsi actually play for the Liverpool first team, as he seems destined to be loaned several times before he's finally sold (netting us a nice profit).

Besides Gulacsi, Hull City have few players that will seriously interest Liverpool fans, and as a friendly, fitness is a much more important concern than a result.  Even so, anything short of a Liverpool victory would be a disappointment.  Hopefully the new names will quickly gel with the rest of the squad to create a strong attacking force.

The game is live on LFC.TV at 3PM BST (10AM EST), and I hope everyone can be on here for the match.

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