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English Premiership

It feels like home-Kuyt

LIVERPOOL, September 25 – Dirk Kuyt believes Liverpool have finally found a cure for the shortcomings at home which cost Rafael Benitez's side the title last season.

DIRK_KUYT_Hull, Saturday’s visitors, were one of the teams who helped topple Benitez’s side from the Premier League summit last term with Phil Brown’s outfit matching Stoke, Fulham, West Ham and Manchester City in securing a draw at the once feared Anfield bastion.

Had Liverpool been able to turn three of those five draws into wins they would have been crowned champions for the first time in 19 years.

This season did not get off to the best of starts with an early home defeat to Aston Villa. But since then Liverpool have recorded 4-0 wins over Stoke and Burnley at Anfield and Kuyt is confident Benitez’s side have regained a ruthless streak in front of their own fans.

"Apart from the Villa match, I think we have shown that we can beat any side at Anfield this season," said the Dutch forward.

"We had difficulties last season with all the draws but now we are able to score goals in the first-half.

"It’s really important to score as early as possible because then it will be more difficult for them and easier for us.

"We know the Premier League is one of the hardest leagues in the world and every team is good with some fine players.

"I believe Hull are a good team as well, but we have to look at our own strengths and we must believe we can beat them. We must focus on ourselves and respect the opponent.

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"We didn’t start that well and have already lost twice. But we have now started to win a couple of games in a row and we want to keep that going, beginning with Hull on Saturday."

Liverpool have scored nine times in three league games at home. Kuyt, who has notched two of them, believes Glen Johnson could be key to a more free-scoring season at Anfield.

England full-back Johnson played starring roles against Burnley and Stoke, and Kuyt believes his marauding runs down the right have made him one of the team’s stand-out performers.

Johnson, 25, has scored two in his opening six league games since completing a 17-million-pound move from Portsmouth in July.

"He was a big signing for us but he has shown straight from the start that he is very important – both defensively and in attack," added Kuyt.

"He has scored some very good goals and provided some assists. He is probably one of the best players in the team so far this season. He is still young and I think he will only get better and better."

Having fielded a team consisting mainly of fringe players for the midweek League Cup tie at Leeds, which Liverpool won 1-0, Benitez will recall his big names to the line up against Hull.

Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard will both start while Javier Mascherano, one of the few regulars to feature in Yorkshire, is free to play after escaping disciplinary action following a clash with Jermain Beckford.

Hull are a shadow of the team which raced into a 2-0 lead at Anfield last season before settling for a 2-2 draw.

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Brown’s side suffered six straight league defeats after that game last December and only narrowly avoided relegation in their first season in the Premier League.

They have won just one of their opening six games this season and arrive at Anfield on the back of a thumping 4-0 home defeat to Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton in the League Cup.

Now Brown is asking his players to come out fighting after their midweek hammering.

"That is all we can do," said the Hull manager, who is under mounting pressure to save his job. "When the going gets tough, you’ve got to roll your sleeves up a little bit further and dig a little deeper. That’s what I’m asking my players to do."

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