Liverpool-Hull City Preview: Rodgers desperate to improve defensive record

The Reds nearly claimed the title last season despite shipping 50 goals, and are now struggling with a far less potent attack, while the Tigers continue to impress

Brendan Rodgers wants Liverpool to improve their poor defensive record, starting with Saturday’s Premier League meeting with Hull City.

Liverpool’s defensive frailties were arguably the reason they failed to win the title last season, as they conceded 50 goals in their 38 games while finishing runners-up to Manchester City.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge papered over the cracks with 52 top-flight goals between them, more than half of Liverpool’s total, and enabled the Merseyside club to outscore most opponents.

However, with Suarez now plying his trade for Barcelona and Sturridge having not played since August due to injury, Liverpool’s deficiencies at the back are costing them.

Rodgers’ side have conceded 12 goals in eight games – with their sole clean sheet coming in a 3-0 win at Tottenham – and suffered a 3-0 Champions League defeat at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday.

And the Northern Irishman has urged all his players to take responsibility for making the team more resilient, telling reporters: “It needs to be better as a team, not just the defence and goalkeeper.

“We pride ourselves on clean sheets but we need to be more competitive and aggressive in those moments as a team.

“In the goals we’ve conceded, a large number have been soft so our job is to improve that record and that’s something we’ll continue to work on.”

Hull come into the game at Anfield on the back of a 2-2 draw at Arsenal last Saturday, and Rodgers has been impressed with the work done by opposite number Steve Bruce during the transfer window.

“He’s done an excellent job and he’s got some reinforcements in that have given them real depth to the squad,” he added.

“He’s building a squad and trying to bring in players with experience. They’ve got some players that can win the game for them so it will be a tough game for us but that’s what we would expect.”

One of those new arrivals is Uruguay international Abel Hernandez, who has three goals in five Premier League appearances and is eagerly awaiting the trip to Anfield.

“It is another exciting game to look forward to,” the striker said. “We are preparing this week and are working as hard as possible to be 100 per cent ready to play against a famous club with great players.

“I am really loving life with Hull City and am looking forward to us all taking the next step together.”

Hernandez may have to shoulder the majority of Hull’s goalscoring burden for the foreseeable future with regular strike partner Nikica Jelavic out for up to six weeks with a knee problem.

Michael Dawson is out for a similar period with an ankle injury, and keeper Eldin Jakupovic is set for only his second league start after Allan McGregor’s back-up Steve Harper tore a bicep tendon against Arsenal.

For the hosts, Sturridge remains sidelined with a calf complaint, while Mamadou Sakho tweeted on Wednesday to confirm that he would need 10 more days of treatment for a thigh injury.

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