Liverpool v Stoke Preview

Stoke Look to Take Vital Points at Anfield

A draw against Swansea has put Stoke in a position where they need a win.

Liverpool, coming off of two successive draws against the likes of Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund, are looking to keep the momentum going forward as they are fighting for a Europa League spot. Stoke on the other hand, are needing a positive result after blowing a 2-0 lead to Swansea to only taking a point out of that match. This match will be key in seeing which club can stay in the battle for a European spot.

Both Stoke and Liverpool, eighth and ninth in the table respectively, go into the fixture in fairly decent league form. Hughes’ men having lost only one of their last seven top-flight matches and Jurgen Klopp’s Reds just one of their last six. However, Liverpool have played two less games than Stoke this season.

Imb-Ooh La La

A look into why Gianelli is the Creme de la Creme in the middle of the park.

If there’s one thing I don’t want to do to Gianelli Imbula, I don’t want to compare his arrival to the departure of Steven N’Zonzi. Last year’s Player of the Season was an ever-present part of a very successful Stoke team and took off for sunny Spain and Champions League football just as he was becoming one of the club’s finest midfielders. But obviously this left a big hole in the Starting XI and various combinations of the remaining midfielders, plus new recruit Ibrahim Afellay, were tasked to replicate the defensive dominance and forward-thinking flair that flowed through the heart of the team last year. Many Stoke fans were left wanting more from the engine room of the team, despite late success of the Whelan/Afellay partnership, and looked to the possibility of a fresh face during the January Transfer Window. Mark Hughes answered this call, and replied with Imbula at the cost of £18.3m.

Many eyebrows were raised at the cost of Imbula, after breaking their long standing transfer record by signing Xherdan Shaqiri in the Summer, it wasn’t expected for the club to break this again, let alone smash it by 150% of the £12m Shaqiri cost. However, Hughes was singing the praises of the French U21 international, as were various media sources (most pointedly the French after Imbula had a good spell in the Marseille team) and this looked to be, as it turned out, a massive coup for the Potters. As with any player entering the Premier League for the first time, it was expected for the player to request time to adapt to the pace and physicality of the team.

Time To Improve As A Club

The recent news that Stoke will be spending £4.5 million on the football pitches, which include synthetic pitches for the first team to train on, and a new underground heating system for the Brit is great news. But the improvements to the club seem to be only on the football side of things.

It’s easy to say that the majority of Stoke fans want the corners of the stadium to be filled in, so that we can allow more fans to watch and to have a greater atmosphere, which as of late has been dropping off. If you take the recent win over Aston Villa, we were 2-0 up and yet the crowd was silent apart from the odd Delilah coming from small parts of the ground.