Liverpool seek home tonic to bolster title tilt

The inconsistent home form of Premier League leaders Liverpool continues to pose serious questions about their ability to end the long wait for an English league crown.

Hull City are the visitors to Anfield on Saturday. Liverpool are yet to lose on Merseyside but their last two matches on home turf ended in suffocating 0-0 draws with Fulham and West Ham United.

Against West Ham the final whistle was greeted with jeers despite the point taking them clear of Chelsea.

Stoke City also escaped with a 0-0 draw earlier in the season, so the visit of high-flying Hull, whose away from has been superb in their first season in the top flight, will offer no guarantees of three points for Rafael Benitez.

The desperation of the Liverpool fans for a first title since 1989-90 has led to a muted atmosphere at Anfield in recent matches, with their worries appearing to sit heavily on the shoulders of the players.

With striker Fernando Torres injured and Robbie Keane failing to spark, Liverpool have become jittery as they struggle to break down entrenched visiting defences.

Dutchman Dirk Kuyt is also injured and Keane is likely to shoulder the burden of providing much-needed firepower on Saturday as he struggles to justify his big-money close-season move from Tottenham Hotspur.

"I'm not the kind of person who gets down about things," Keane, who has managed just four goals for Liverpool and has been linked with a move in January, told the club's website.

"I'm confident in my own ability and I know I'll score a lot of goals for this club. There's a lot more to come from me.

"I've only been here a few months and it takes a bit of time to settle into a new club. That's not an excuse but I deserve to be judged a little further down the line."

Hull have been a revelation since gaining promotion. They play with flair and adventure away from home and in Brazilian Geovanni they have one of best midfielders in the top flight.

His goals have helped Hull to sixth place and their four away victories include a stunning upset of Arsenal in which Geovanni scored a contender for goal of the season.

Former Liverpool player Nick Barmby, now back with his hometown club, said the trip to Anfield, Hull's first in a league match, will hold no fears.

"We'll go there full of confidence and we'll give them a game," Barmby told Hull's website (www.hullcityafc.premiumtv).

Second-placed Chelsea, who are just a point below Liverpool, will be looking to pounce on any slips when they host struggling West Ham United on Sunday.

Didier Drogba, scorer in the week against CFR Cluj in the Champions League, is likely to start for the Londoners after completing a ban for throwing a coin at fans.

Champions Manchester United face a difficult away trip to Tottenham on Saturday as they seek to keep the leaders in sight before heading off to the Club World Cup in Japan.

Dimitar Berbatov will return to Tottenham for the first time since leaving to join United in September but Wayne Rooney is suspended.