After a week in which fans were left disappointed by throwing away two leads against Sevilla in the Champions League then at home to Chelsea, as Willian’s freak cross managed to salvage the Blues a draw. Nonetheless, it’s time for the Reds and the Anfield faithful to move on and look ahead to a run of six winnable games including the final Champions League group stage match and the Merseyside derby. Starting on an actually cold and let’s face it, probably wet night in Stoke. Match-day 14? Into these.
Joel Matip and Adam Lallana both returned to the first-team on the weekend, with Joel waltzing back into the starting line-up and Lallana coming into the fray for the final ten or so minutes. The fitness issues within the squad are now upon Dejan Lovren and Emre Can, with both missing out on the weekend being replaced by Joel Matip and James Milner respectively. However, Adam Lallana missed training, Monday night so his eligibility may come into question. Nathaniel Clyne remains out with injury, as does Adam Bodgan, but I don’t think you mind that, Reds.
Stoke are definitely without Stephen Ireland and Jack Butland for the visit of Liverpool to the Bet365 Stadium, with the latter having broken his finger. Former Red, Glen Johnson and American team-mate Geoff Cameron both face a race to be fit for Wednesday’s game whereas there could be rotational starts for Peter Crouch and Jese after a short turnaround between last weekend’s games and mid-week outing.
After the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, there were many questions asked of captain, Jordan Henderson by Liverpool fans all over Twitter, those fans may get their wish at the Bet365 Stadium with Henderson being one of a few players who could end up on the sidelines getting some much needed rest. Another one of said players could be Mohamed Salah, fuelling a start for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield if Philippe Coutinho is needed out wide. There is a lot of potential for change in this Liverpool side at the moment, with the prospect of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson coming in to play their respective full-back positions also a very realistic possibility. We could also see the starting return of Adam Lallana, which I for one, am very excited for. I expect that we’ll see at least a bit of the rotation that I’ve mentioned as we do have a very heavy schedule between now and the first of January when we play Burnley at Turf Moor. I’m still going to pick Lallana because wishful thinking is what I do best.
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ragnar Klavan, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Emre Can, Gini Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino.
Stoke City: Lee Grant, Bruno Martins-Indi, Kurt Zouma, Kevin Wimmer, Eric Pieters, Joe Allen, Stephen Fletcher, Mame Biram Diouf, Peter Crouch, Xherdan Shaqiri, Jese.
Stoke City: Joe Allen
Not only is this a fantastic excuse to write about Joe Allen, it actually could prove to be true. The former Red, and Welsh Pirlo extraordinaire could actually be quite pivotal in the game on Wednesday. Stoke will inevitably try and combat our style of football with a more brute force approach with Peter Crouch and Jon Walters the most likely outlets for them to exploit, now, Joe Allen’s passing could be instrumental as to whether or not the Potters’ have any success through this, and as much as it pains me to say it, I hope he doesn’t turn up, literally or figuratively.
Liverpool: Sadio Mane
I’ve seen people claim that our Senegalese wonder-man has been out of sorts recently, and since his injury it has actually been the case, he should look at the Stoke game as an opportunity to get back into a fully fledged vain of form. Plus, after his words with Jurgen Klopp after the 1-1 draw with Chelsea on the weekend, he should be eager to show big Jurgs why he should have been unleashed earlier, even if it wasn’t truly Jurgen’s fault. Damn you, John Achterburg.
I can see this game going one of two ways, one being a tough, long, drawn-out tie with the Reds getting a foot over in the dying minutes, or for the Reds to blow away the Potters in the first twenty minutes just to sit back and pass the ball around Stoke like nobody’s business. I’m going to go for the latter, as several of the lads on the pitch may well have a point to prove. 3-0 full-time.