After an inspiring start to the season, Mike Phelan's Hull City were brought back down to Earth with a bump as an exquisite attacking display by Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool put them to the sword at Anfield.
Hull unable to retain possession
Many will point to the red card that was awarded to Ahmed Elmohamady and the resulting penalty as the point in the contest that Liverpool took control, though in truth they were already head and shoulders above the opposition in terms of quality and held a deserved lead through Adam Lallana's 17th minute strike.
Losing a player as early as the half hour mark certainly did not aid Hull's recovery, as a forced change of tactics caused lone striker Aber Hernandez to be left stranded up front with a lack of support. The Uruguayan was unable to retain possession higher up the pitch with no colleagues able to get close to the Hull front man. A lack of attacking threat from the opposition allowed the hosts to play a high defensive line, with Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner given the freedom to push further forward and support the midfield.
Liverpool pass and move with pace and fluidity
Unsurprisingly Liverpool dominated possession, registering nearly 700 passes at an average of a pass every eight seconds. Recording statistics such as that requires fluid and accurate passing that Klopp's men served in abundance. Even before Elmohamady's departure, Hull simply could not cope with the speed of Liverpool's passing and associated movement off the ball.
Assisted by working in tandem as one player came short for the ball whilst a teammate moved into space further forward, Liverpool always had options available as they used the full width of the pitch. On numerous occasions their front line was spread between four or five players across the edge of the 18 yard box and out towards the touchline. Such a tactic posed a dilemna for the Hull full-backs who were left unsure whether to support their central defenders or close down the threat from the wings. In the end they rarely did either, as Liverpool were afforded too much freedom in the attacking third, culminating in the hosts registering 32 shots throughout the match.
Intense pressing game allows the hosts to win the ball back quickly
Even when Liverpool did lose the ball on rare occasions, they were quick to hunt it down and win it back. Klopp's stalwarts pressed the ball in numbers, forcing Hull to give the ball away under severe pressure. However, the Anfield faithful will still be slightly concerned at defensive frailties that reappeared when the Reds were slow to react for Hull's consolation goal.
In a nine out of ten performance from the hosts, the final ingredient to their excellent display was sheer class. Their fourth goal was testament to this as Philippe Coutinho belted a screamer into the back of the net as Liverpool sent a message out to their fellow title contenders.