Liverpool vs Stoke City
TV: Sky Sports Premier League
Referee: Andre Marriner
A miracle is defined as, “an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and therefore attributed to a divine agency.” Stoke need something more than a miracle when facing Liverpool at Anfield in the early kick off on Saturday.
Even though Paul Lambert has masterminded three wins during his managerial career at Liverpool, he must accomplish what no other Stoke manager has done before and keep their hopes alive of Premier League survival. On top of this, Klopp’s men are unbeaten at home in the Premier League this season and will want to go second in the table with a victory but Man United will have two games in hand to recover.
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Klopp’s side impressively put five goals past Roma in a stunning Champions League semi-final on Tuesday but conceding two late goals against them means they can’t lose focus on the second leg. If Klopp decides to heavily rotate his squad, Stoke must capitalise and repeat or better West Brom’s 2-2 draw against the Reds last week.
However, Stoke have only won one game this year and played the majority against opposition who are and were in the relegation fight. Liverpool have the second highest number of goals scored in the league with 80 and Stoke have the highest goals conceded with 65 which doesn’t fair well for the Potters.
So it can be believed that normal service will resume and Liverpool will defeat Stoke despite the probability of them fielding a weaker side. Yet Klopp insists, “we could play the same team that we played against Roma, if the players are available”. This will keep the Stoke dressing room on their toes.
Lambert can be accused of hopeless optimism claiming, “we’re still in the fight. I’ve never really had a problem to pick them up – I really haven’t.” Even though his reign at Stoke has only seen one win. The team looked dejected after the draws to West Ham and Burnley. It can be argued that they have lost belief like most of the Potters faithful considering they’re four points from safety with three games remaining.
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Liverpool have a few headaches selecting the team this week with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being ruled out for the rest of the season and the world cup; as well as Sadio Mane being photographed visiting a private hospital on Thursday. This means the ‘Egyptian King’, Mohamed Salah, could feature against Potters. He has scored three goals from just four shots against stoke in the Premier League, adding to the already unfavourable history that haunts Stoke in this fixture.
Stoke are without right-back Glen Johnson who has suffered a groin injury in the draw last week to Burnley meaning Zouma could step in. Choupo-Moting and Stafylidis both remain side-lined with respective groin and rib injuries.
Liverpool have never lost in 54 previous home top-fight games against Stoke, winning 43 and drawing 11 – the longest ever unbeaten home run by one team against another in top-flight history. In all competitions, Stoke have won just 4 of their 70 away games against Liverpool, drawing 13 and losing 53, with their most recent win in a 1-0 League Cup semi-final second leg but still being knocked out on penalties, in the same match. However, there is a slight glimmer of hope that in that Paul Lambert has never lost an away match at Anfield as manager, winning three and drawing two of his five matches in all competitions.
So, it seems Stoke will need more than a miracle to get any result at Anfield and with the Reds looking to cement themselves in the top four; a miracle way not be enough to secure the Potters with any points.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Liverpool: Minoglet, Gomez, Van Dijk, Klavan, Moreno, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Milner, Ings, Solanke, Salah
Stoke: Butland, Zouma, Martins-Indi, Shawcross, Pieters, Allen, Ndiaye, Bauer, Shaqiri, Doiuf, Crouch
Prediction: Liverpool 2 Stoke City 0
Written by Andy Ridgway.
Project Engineer at Rolls Royce. Unfortunately, born a Stoke City fan but wouldn’t have it any other way.