Liverpool

v

Stoke City

Anfield, Liverpool

January 12th, 2011; 15:00 BST

Ai??***

.

Merseyside woke up to the sweet smell of victory on Thursday morning. Why wouldnai??i??t it? After all, the Reds drove out of Manchester with a smile that isnai??i??t indicative of complacency but of rightful win which has taken them a step closer to the famed Wembley. Kenny Dalglish and his men orchestrated a well-fought triumph over their semi-final opponents away from home in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final, just days after being battered to expose the need for more attacking reinforcements. While one facet of domestic success is now soaking in revelry, the Reds will be looking to duplicate a similar form in the Premier League when they entertain Stoke on Saturday night.

The return of Liverpoolai??i??s prodigal son, Steven Gerrard, has set Liverpool back on track just as they were starting to look frail without the presence of Suarez, not to forget, Lucas. Three goals since his comeback along with that stability he brings all around the pitch have reinstated him as the epicenter of Liverpoolai??i??s game once again. While there is little doubt Gerrard performing his duties, credit is due to the Redsai??i?? defense which has stood strong against some very tough and tricky opponents in the past few months. Liverpoolai??i??s nucleus is beginning to take shape and a win against Stoke this weekend will definitely catalyze the team spirit and confidence for further success.

Stoke have been on a rise of their own. Recent progress in the FA Cup following a 1 ai??i?? 3 away victory against League Two side Gillingham and entering the round of 32 in the Europa League is indeed worth the praise. Also, with the Potters being the current incumbents of the eighth spot in the League, it is safe to say that all is well at the Britannia.

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Will he Work His Magic This Time?


Anfield however, will be a tough place to land at this weekend. Three points wonai??i??t really seem like a distant dream albeit leveraging just their good stead is probably not going to be enough to walk away with a win. Stoke have proved to be tough opponents for Liverpool earlier in the past and will leave no stone unturned in making life difficult for them at their home ground. It all adds up to an exciting encounter to watch.

Team News & Tactical Brief

Liverpool

The latest addition to the list of absentees which has the names of Suarez and Lucas on it is Jay Spearing. The youngster pulled a hamstring during the semi-final game against City on Wednesday night and although the injury doesnai??i??t seem too serious, it could probably rule him out of the fixture against Stoke. Dalglish otherwise doesnai??i??t have too many qualms on the injury front.

Spearingai??i??s absence against Stoke could be a good thing after all. Considering the rough, physical nature of Stokeai??i??s game, fielding Spearing will probably go against Liverpoolai??i??s tactics. The midfield will play a vital role in this game with Gerrardai??i??s return to the squad and Charlie Adam would be a better choice to go for.

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Gerrard - Steading the Ship


Andy Carroll will continue to shoulder the brunt of responsibilities on the striking front till the return of Suarez or the arrival of a new striker. The good thing is that Gerrard can go a long way in supporting the Geordie, helping him score goals and take off some of the heat that he has been bearing this season. This is what everyone is waiting for; for Andy Carroll to use more of his thunderous left-footed strikes and accurate headers.

Except for Spearing, the midfield is likely to wear a similar look against Stoke City. The presence of Henderson, Bellamy and Downing provides for a good source of pace and creativity behind and Gerrard. However, the key player here is Charlie Adam. Chances are that Adam will be employed in a role just in front of the back four since the Reds are now missing a defensive midfielder. Although not his best position, Adam comes the closest to taking on the big boys from Stoke and making those crunching tackles.

Luis Enrique was dropped from the squad against Manchester City in the Carling Cup semi-final since Dalglish was inclined towards an attack-minded lineup. So he will make a return to the first team against the Potters. The Spaniard has shown consistency in his performances and has been more than impressive at the club in his first season. It is not going to be a tough decision for Dalglish to bring this name back on the team sheet. He, along with Downing, will be looking to provide ammunition to Carroll who desperately needs to cement his place at the club.

Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-1-1): Reina(GK); Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Bellamy, Downing, Henderson, Adam; Gerrard; Carroll

football formations

Probable Starting Lineups

Stoke City

There arenai??i??t too many injury concerns for Tony Pulis ahead of the game against Liverpool. Wilkinson and Sidibe are ruled out due to injury. Positive news for the Potters going into this fixture is that 27 year-old Glenn Whelan has agreed to a new three-and-a-half year contract to stay at the Britannia. The Republic of Ireland international has been instrumental in Stokeai??i??s domestic and European campaigns this season and his signature will surely bring joy to the fanbase.

Stokeai??i??s style of play comes as no surprise who knows the Premier League. Home or away, the team follows the same game and tactics and needless to say, it has worked out well for Tony Pulisai??i?? side. The backline quartet of Huth, Shawcross, Upson and Woodgate are threatening in the air and tough on the ground. This weekend, they will be up against Andy Carroll who is itching to increase his tally. This makes for a feisty competition in front of Begovic.

There could be two changes to midfield ai??i?? Ryan Shotton and Cameron Jerome, who started on either flank in the FA Cup encounter against Gillingham, will be replaced by the regulars ai??i?? Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington. Watch out for those races between Enrique and Pennant on the right. Mr. Throw-In, Rory Delap will take the center of the park alongside Honduran international Wilson Palacios.

Ahead of the park, Jon Walters could start alongside Kenwyne Jones. Walters gave the Reds a torrid time when the two sides met at the Britannia earlier this season and Pulis will be expecting only a better performance, if not the same, from the striker.

Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-2): Begovic(GK); Woodgate, Shawcross, Huth, Upson; Pennant, Delap, Palacios, Etherington; Jones, Walters

TheHardTackleai??i??s Player to Watch Out for

Andy Carroll (Liverpool)

Recent reports flung in the media are once again linking Carroll with a return to Tyneside. The costliest British player hasnai??i??t really emulated a similar form at Anfield upon arrival from Newcastle. This form, coupled with his price tag, has woken up several cynics from all over.

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Carroll - Will he become a Kop Favourite?


Andy Carroll needs to find the back of the net; that too on a consistent basis. And he needs to do it quickly. He will now have the services of Steven Gerrard along with Downing, Enrique and Adam and hence from here on, there isnai??i??t much room for error for Andy.

TheHardTackleai??i??s Prediction

Liverpool 2 ai??i?? 0 Stoke City

Stoke City have caused upsets to several big clubs but fail to replicate a similar, intimidating presence away from home. Although they can hurt Liverpool, the Reds stand a better chance here considering they are fresh out of a semi-final victory and have just welcomed their captain back. We predict a Liverpool win in this game.

TheHardTackleai??i??s Blast from the Past

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One Response to “Liverpool v Stoke City Preview: Anfield Test Awaits Potters; Reds On A High After Carling Cup Win Against Man City”

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  1. Atlanta Potter says:

    Thomas Sorensen is the goalkeeper in favour at the moment. I would be surprised if Glenn Whelan was not in the starting line up as well as Dean Whitehead. Marc Wilson will be the starting left back, with Upson, Palcios and Delap on the bench. While Stoke maintain the same overall approach at home and away, they sit back much more especially at the more hallowed grounds. I believe that Stoke have never won at Anfield in the top flight and so I think that the 2-0 to Liverpool is probably a good prediction (unfortunately!)