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Stoke City FC

vs

Liverpool FC

Britannia Stadium — Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

January 12, 2014 4:10 PM GMT

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Stoke City have been almost as good as any other top club at making sure victories don’t come easily at Britannia, and have made it a fortress this season- only one loss in ten games at home. Liverpool FC will be looking to change that get the valuable three points while Mark Hughes’s men will want at least a point off this clash.

The two sides took on each other was in the very first match of this edition of the Premier League. Daniel Sturridge scored the only goal of the match as Liverpool won 1-0, but it was remembered more for Simon Mignolet’s injury time heroics. The Belgium international, in his debut for the Reds, saved an injury time penalty and made sure Liverpool won the first match of the season and bagged all the three points. However, the match also saw some wonderful saves from Stoke’s Bosnian goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic.

Stoke City- Team News, Possible Line-Up

Stoke City’s last Premier League match was against Everton, where the club managed to make the Merseyside club chase them for the majority of the match. Liverpool’s on-loan winger Oussama Assaidi scored the goal for Stoke. The Potters’ last match was a FA Cup clash against  Leicester City  where they also managed to win 2-1, progressing into the fourth round.

With their recent run, Stoke would be confident facing Premier League’s current fourth spot holders. The club certainly has the capabilities to upset a top team, having beaten Chelsea in a dramatic match.

Stoke are certainly going to miss Assaidi in this clash, who is not qualified to play this match against his parent club. The in-form Moroccan has scored three goals in 11 PL matches, including the late winner against Chelsea. He insists that his loyalties are going to be for the club he is representing at the moment. The Moroccan commented:

I would love to be involved in the game, but through rules and regulations that isn’t possible unfortunately.There is nothing I can do about it, apart from sit on the sidelines and cheer my team-mates on, which is what I will be doing on Sunday. I want Stoke City to win the game of course, because this is where I am playing my football at the moment, and for as long as I am here I will want us to win every game we play.

The Potters left back Erik Pieters believes that Stoke’s home form can ensure they don’t suffer a loss against the visiting Reds:

We’re playing really well at home. Away we must be better, but at the Brit it’s very good and we’re getting better and better. We have to keep that going. Sunday is a good game to play against a good opponent, especially with (Luis) Suarez in their team, but we can look forward to it because of how we have been playing here.

Jack Butland - Stoke City goalkeeper - on loan at Barnsley

Jack Butland is confident going up against Luis Suarez

The club is without the services of two of their goalkeepers- Begovic with a broken finger and Sorensen with a calf injury. Young Jack Butland will keep the goal for the Potters and the 20 year old is ready to upset Luis Suarez, like he has done once before:

I’m excited as I’ve faced him before and beaten him. That was when I was playing for Team GB in the Olympics and we beat Uruguay. We beat them 1-0, so I’d love to be able to face Liverpool and be able to put in a good shift and beat them too.

Defender Robert Huth and midfielder Stephen Ireland were reported to be coming back from the knocks they picked up for the weekend’s clash. However, it seems unlikely that Hughes will use them directly in the starting line-up and they might feature on City’s bench.

Possible Line-up (4-2-3-1): Butland; Cameron, Wilson, Shawcross, Pieters; Whelan N’ Zonzi; Walters, Adam, Arnautovic; Crouch

football formations

Liverpool- Team News, Possible Line-Up

Liverpool had a mixed festive period, winning against Tottenham, Cardiff and Hull, but losing to Manchester City and Chelsea. However, the Reds will go into this match with confidence, after beaten Hull City in their last Premier League clash, and Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup match. Despite the two losses, manager Brendan Rodgers would be more than satisfied with Liverpool’s performances against two of the best teams in the Premier League, and that too without the services of Daniel Sturridge, Steven Gerrard, Jose Enrique and Jon Flannagan (for a few matches as well).

Liverpool had a very thin squad in the festive period as aforementioned, but have received some injury boosts in the last couple of days as well. It has been reported that Daniel Sturridge could make his long awaited return against Stoke alongside Mamadou Sakho, who suffered a hamstring injury in the match against Chelsea. Again, it does seem unlikely that the players will start the match. However, Liverpool would gladly take the presence of these stars on the bench, especially after Liverpool’s injury blows were so deep that two youngsters were named in the squad against Chelsea.

Liverpool have suffered more injury blows as Daniel Agger suffered from a calf injury in the Oldham match and has been ruled out for six weeks. Jon Flanagan, Joe Allen and Jose Enrique are all out with injuries.

The Reds would be delighted to have Steven Gerrard start a Premier League match. The Reds captain did come on as a substitute against Hull City and started the FA Cup tie against Oldham. Gerrard would start a match after a gap of more than a month.

Martin Skrtel, the player who was rumored to be heading out of Anfield after not featuring much for Rodgers towards the latter part of last season, has had a turnaround in fortunes, representing Liverpool eighteen times in the Premier League this season. The Slovakian international said:

We know really well how difficult it is to play against Stoke in front of their fans and it is never easy. However, we want to win this game at all costs and continue our good run of form. And we want to stay on top so we really need three points from this game.

Possible Line-up(4-3-2-1): Mignolet; Johnson, Toure, Skrtel, Cissokho; Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson; Coutinho, Sterling; Suarez

Player to watch out for:Liverpool's Jordan Henderson - Has he earned his place in central midfield?

Jordan Henderson

While Liverpool’s Luis Suarez is the player garnering all the headlines at the moment, young Jordan Henderson too, has had an absolutely wonderful season. The 23 year old has improved exceptionally since his signing two years back, and has particularly done well in the absence of Steven Gerrard. The England international is relishing the role of playing in the centre with the freedom to move up front. Chelsea stopped a lot of Liverpool’s attacking threat by ensuring David Luiz personally dealt with Jordan Henderson. Stoke too, will have to make sure they stop the Reds’ midfielder who is immensely versatile and can move to either flanks, or through the middle with ease.

Match Facts:

  1. Ex- Liverpool player Charlie Adam is Stoke’s top scorer with 4 goals, with former Red Peter Crouch and Liverpool’s on-loan winger Oussama Assaidi the joint second top scorers with 3 goals each.
  2. Liverpool have not won in the last five times they have taken on Stoke at the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League, losing thrice (years 12, 11, 10) and drawing twice (years 09,08).
  3. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has more goals in the Premier League this season-20, after missing out on the first five matches with suspension, than the entire Stoke City team- 19.