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Premier League

  • September 10, 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
  • Referee: M. Clattenburg
  • • Attendance: 27592
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Premier League Preview: Stoke City - Liverpool

The Reds have drawn two and lost one of their three games in the Potteries since 2008, while the hosts are set to hand former Anfield hero Peter Crouch his debut


PROBABLE LINEUPS

STOKE CITY

Begovic
Huth, Woodgate, Shawcross, Wilson
Pennant, Delap, Palacios, Etherington
Walters
Crouch
LIVERPOOL

Reina
Flanagan, Carragher, Agger, Enrique
Henderson, Adam, Lucas, Downing
Kuyt
Suarez
The hosts are expected to hand club record signing Peter Crouch a start, with the former Anfield hero likely to replace one of Jonathan Walters or Kenwyne Jones, while Wilson Palacios is also set for his debut, possibly alongside hamstring injury victim Rory Delap, with Tony Pulis having no other significant new injury worries or suspensions hanging over his players.

The Stoke boss may opt to use Robert Huth as a right-back to allow Jonathan Woodgate to partner Ryan Shawcross at the back, as he did when his side held Chelsea to goalless draw on the opening day of the Premier League season.

Kenny Dalglish has confirmed that Charlie Adam should be ready after picking up an injury in Scotland's 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic last week, while full-back Martin Kelly is expected to be out after pulling up with a hamstring complaint in Liverpool's last game, against Bolton. Glen Johnson has only recently returned to training and may not be ready to start, which could see John Flanagan coming in at right-back.

The visitors are also without captain Steven Gerrard, who is still recovering from a long-term groin problem, but are able to field deadline day signings Craig Bellamy and Sebastian Coates. Andy Carroll looks set to be on the bench after Liverpool swept aside Bolton with the giant striker on the sidelines, with Luis Suarez and Dirk Kuyt forming a solid partnership.


DID YOU KNOW?

  • Stoke are unbeaten against Saturday's visitors in the Premier League at the Britannia Stadium. They held Rafael Benitez's title-chasing 2009 side to a goalless draw, then Robert Huth popped up late on to deny the Reds three points a year later before they bullied Roy Hodgson's meek men last season.
  • The Potters are unbeaten in the seven competitive games they have played this season and have conceded only one goal (away to Norwich), having also faced Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League and Hadjuk Split and FC Thun in qualifying for the Europa League group stages.
  • Stoke won last season's corresponding fixture 2-0, with Ricardo Fuller and Kenwyne Jones both finding the net.
  • Tony Pulis made five signings this summer but did not spend any money until the deadline day, having snapped up Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson on Bosman deals before paying out over £20m for Crouch (pictured right), Cameron Jerome and Palacios on August 31.
  • Kenny Dalglish spent around £50m on his six first-team purchases, as Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Alexander Doni, Jose Enrique and Craig Bellamy came in during the summer.
  • The last time Liverpool beat Stoke at the Britannia Stadium was in November 2000, when they won 8-0 en route to winning the League Cup.
  • The hosts have only beaten the Merseyside club 27 times in the league, with the Reds winning 55 of the 112 games played between the sides.
  • Liverpool's Lucas Leiva was sent off for two bookable offences in this fixture last year.
  • The Reds beat the Potters the last time the sides met in the Premier League, with Luis Suarez striking after coming on as a substitute on his debut in a 2-0 win at Anfield.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Asmir BegovicGoalkeeper
4Robert HuthDefender
17Ryan ShawcrossDefender
20Matthew UpsonDefender
12Marc WilsonDefender
7Jermaine PennantMidfielder
24Rory DelapMidfielder
18Dean WhiteheadMidfielder
26Matthew EtheringtonMidfielder
19Jonathan WaltersStriker
25Peter CrouchStriker
29Thomas SørensenGoalkeeper
28Andy WilkinsonDefender
30Ryan ShottonDefender
6Glenn WhelanMidfielder
8W. PalaciosMidfielder
9Kenwyne JonesStriker
10Cameron JeromeStriker
25Pepe ReinaGoalkeeper
23Jamie CarragherDefender
37Martin SkrtelDefender
5Daniel AggerDefender
3José EnriqueDefender
16Charlie AdamMidfielder
21Lucas LeivaMidfielder
14Jordan HendersonMidfielder
19Stewart DowningMidfielder
11Dirk KuytStriker
7Luis SuárezStriker
32DoniGoalkeeper
2Glen JohnsonDefender
16Sebastián CoatesDefender
11Maxi RodríguezMidfielder
20Jay SpearingMidfielder
9Andy CarrollStriker
39Craig BellamyStriker
Players to Watch
Peter Crouch
Peter Crouch
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 25
Games Goals YC RC
2 0 0 0
The England international is set to be handed his debut for his new club against one of his former sides, for whom he was a massive fan favourite.

The striker's inclusion will force a change of approach from the hosts, who usually rely on the energy of Jones and Walters to chase and harass opponents, and it will be interesting to see how the Potters adapt to having a significantly less mobile forward leading the line.

But the 30-year-old club record signing offers qualities that neither Jones nor Walters possess, and his trickery and ingenuity in the box will make him a serious threat from both open and set plays.
Luis Suárez
Luis Suárez
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The diminutive Uruguayan has taken the Premier League by storm since his arrival from Ajax in January, easily outshining £35m man Andy Carroll with his electric pace and even quicker mind capable of punishing the slightest of gaps in a defence.

He also has the tenacity and street smarts to relish a test against Stoke's beefy backline, though given his tendency to hit the deck early and plead for decisions, he's likely to come in for plenty of stick from opponents and fans, and could wind up getting himself in the referee's book.

Regardless of who he plays alongside up top, the 24-year-old will be the visitors' go-to man, with his cunning expected to prise apart a sturdy backline.
Prediction
Stoke have proved more than a handful for Liverpool since they were promoted in 2008 and they will arguably pose the toughest challenge of the season thus far for Dalglish's men, who have faced a solid but not spectacular Sunderland, a depleted Arsenal and a limp Bolton in the league.

However, the visitors are a much changed side to the one that fell ingloriously to a pathetic defeat in the same fixture last year, and their pass-and-move style could have the Potters rattled if they get into a rhythm.

The hosts also have the ability to mix it up, with Crouch offering subtlety to complement the side's directness, and Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington will enjoy linking up with the England man.

But the wave of optimism that has swept through Anfield this summer and the sorcery of Suarez should see the visitors put an end to their Britannia curse.
Editor's Prediction

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