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Premier League

  • 14 January 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Anfield, Liverpool
  • Referee: H. Webb
  • • Attendance: 44691
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Liverpool - Stoke Preview: Hosts looking to continue upturn in Anfield fortunes against a side unbeaten in three

The Reds defeated Newcastle in their last home fixture but face well-organised opponents who, under the leadership of Tony Pulis, have gained a reputation for defensive discipline


PROBABLE LINEUPS

LIVERPOOL

Reina
Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique
Downing, Adam, Spearing, Maxi
Gerrard
Carroll

STOKE CITY

Sorenson
Woodgate, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson
Shotton, Palacios, Whelan, Etherington
Walters
Crouch

Liverpool have just one new injury worry ahead of their clash with Stoke, after midfielder Jay Spearing limped off with a tight hamstring in Wednesday's League Cup clash with Manchester City.

Manager Kenny Dalglish was quick to assure fans that the youngster felt tightness in his hamstring, rather than a pull, meaning he could well return for this fixture.

However, fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson may well miss out, with this game coming so soon after an impressive, energy-sapping, performance against City.

Forward Craig Bellamy is also unlikely to start as he is often rested for multiple games over short periods due to long-term knee issues. This could mean a return for Argentine Maxi Rodriguez, who has a fine goalscoring record for the Reds in recent times.

For the visitors, a familiar, and equally formidable, back four is likely to face the Anfield barrage.

Boyhood Evertonian Jon Walters could form part of the Potters' attack, despite featuring in last weekend's FA Cup win at Gillingham, and should partner former Red Peter Crouch.

Ryan Shotton is expected to feature on the right hand side of midfield, in order to provide further defensive cover with winger Matthew Etherington bombing forward on the other side.


DID YOU KNOW?
  • This game marks the 113th league meeting between these two sides.
  • They have played each other twice already this season with Liverpool triumphing in the League Cup and the Potters in the league.
  • Saturday's game will be Kenny Dalglish's (pictured right) 50th in charge of the Reds since his return as boss and his 348th overall.
  • Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez made his Liverpool debut in this fixture last season, coming on to score, but will not feature here as he continues his eight-match ban for racial abuse.
  • Stoke forward Peter Crouch could face his former club for the ninth time since leaving but has yet to score against them.
  • Stoke have scored just eight goals away from home so far this season. Only Fulham have a worse record having netted just six times on their travels.
  • Equally worrying for the Potters is the fact that Liverpool have conceded just eight times at home in the league, a statistic bettered only by Arsenal and Manchester City.
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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
25Pepe ReinaGoalkeeper
2Glen JohnsonDefender
3José EnriqueDefender
16Sebastián CoatesDefender
23Jamie CarragherDefender
37Martin SkrtelDefender
8Steven GerrardMidfielder
14Jordan HendersonMidfielder
19Stewart DowningMidfielder
16Charlie AdamMidfielder
11Dirk KuytStriker
32DoniGoalkeeper
6Fabio AurelioDefender
34Martin KellyDefender
38Jon FlanaganDefender
8Jonjo ShelveyMidfielder
9Andy CarrollStriker
39Craig BellamyStriker
29Thomas SørensenGoalkeeper
4Robert HuthDefender
12Marc WilsonDefender
17Ryan ShawcrossDefender
8Jonathan WoodgateDefender
6Glenn WhelanMidfielder
24Rory DelapMidfielder
26Matthew EtheringtonMidfielder
8W. PalaciosMidfielder
19Jonathan WaltersStriker
25Peter CrouchStriker
1Asmir BegovicGoalkeeper
28Andy WilkinsonDefender
7Jermaine PennantMidfielder
18Dean WhiteheadMidfielder
9Kenwyne JonesStriker
10Ricardo FullerStriker
10Cameron JeromeStriker
Players to Watch
Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 8
Games Goals YC RC
1 0 0 0
The Reds' inspirational captain has now made two consecutive starts in his return from a lengthy injury absence and is likely to now be a fixture of Liverpool's lineup once again.

With two goals in his last two outings, both from the penalty spot, he will want to prove here that he can be the man to alleviate his side's Anfield attacking woes.
Peter Crouch
Peter Crouch
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 25
Games Goals YC RC
1 0 0 0
As mentioned above, Crouch has yet to net against the side he made 134 appearances for since leaving in 2008.

However, Liverpool's defenders will be well aware of the giant striker's threat and will know that he could influence proceedings here if provided with the correct service.
Prediction
Stoke possess all the ingredients to unsettle a Liverpool side that has struggled to break teams down at Anfield this season.

Their physicality and threat from set-pieces in particular could cause the Reds trouble and, though the hosts are likely to net given the attacking boost of Gerrard, they could well suffer a familiar fate here.

If Stoke can marshal Gerrard and ensure Andy Carroll's woes continue, they will go a long way to securing a valuable point.
Editor's Prediction

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