Stoke v Liverpool Preview
This weekend sees us back in the Bet365 Stadium hosting Liverpool, who sit in 3rd.
We’ve been in shocking form lately, three losses on the trot and one win in six. Tuesday night’s match against Burnley was another kick in the teeth for many. With fans now demanding three points this weekend, a fixture many wouldn’t expect a win from. We now lie in 12th place, one point from the ‘dependable’ 9th finish, Southampton now sit there with two games in hand. We’re twelve points from Mark Hughes’ target of 7th, following two dismal cup runs. Now we’re closer to the relegation zone, only eight points ahead of 18th placed Swansea. A lot of questions are being asked about Hughes he’s ability to take the club further.
Liverpool go into this game off the back of a 2-2 draw with Bournemouth. They came back from being behind to lead 2-1, however a late strike from Joshua King salvaged a point for the Cherries. They’re still in good form, currently a five-game unbeaten run. Away from home they’ve also been in great shape, averaging 1.53 point(s) from all league away games. They have collected 12 points more than the same point last season.
Players that we should be weary of due to recent form are Coutinho and Divock Origi. Both have scored in the last two games. Meaning Shawcross must make sure Coutinho can’t get into a deadly position, like that performance against Aguero at Etihad. Origi must be closed down and actually be seen as the threat that he is. Conceding 39 goals so far, compared to Spurs’ 22, shows they’re not the strongest defensively in the league and still can be beaten.
Fortunately, there are a few injuries at Liverpool. Mane is out due to a knee injury; Lallana is out and Henderson too.
Stoke on the other hand, we head into the match after losing 1-0 to Burnley, and are now facing a season-finish below the top ten. We have 10 points less than this point last season, and have only managed to average 1.53 point(s) at home. That equals Liverpool’s away form. We’ve won 40% of our home games. Now, I know you’re thinking that he’s comparing a Honda to a Mercedes, both clubs being completely different and there being an obvious better side. It’s still not acceptable, in the last ten games, we’ve only won two. Those being Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough. We got nine points out of a possible thirty! If we stay like this much longer, we could possibly, or even easily slip into the relegation battle. Something needs to change, we are a top half side treading on a dangerous path.
The performances of Bardsley and Johnson forced Hughes to change the formation and use Diouf instead. Other performances have been lacking around the squad too, making it difficult who Hughes will pick and more importantly, who he should pick. After a quiet display on Tuesday, he’ll be looking to inspire a resurgence on Saturday.
Walters and Sobhi have a chance to return this weekend, after recovering from injuries. And same as last week, and the week before. Shaqiri is also expected to return, believe what you will. As Adam’s performance wasn’t great, again. Imbula could be given the chance to start.
Three points this weekend would be a dream, we need a win, Hughes does too. If he can get that against Liverpool, it will appease some fans and end that awful, no wins against stop six side, stat. Let’s all hope for a decent performance and let’s dream for the win.
Written by Benito Fisher
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