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.
Goalkeeper and Defence: Simon Mignolet, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ragnar Klavan, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson.
After the draw with Chelsea on the weekend there were many questions asked of several sections of the Liverpool team from Saturday and for once, one of those areas was not the defence. Well, maybe apart from one criticism on defending crosses but I digress. Liverpool are becoming ever more defensively solid and it really has come as a breath of fresh air to many fans. However, we will probably see some rotation in the squad this Wednesday evening throughout the team, not just at the back. Here though, I expect Trent Alexander-Arnold to come in for Joe Gomez at right-back and Andy Robertson to come in for Moreno, as much as that is contrasting to many fans’ opinions of what will happen. This is NOT to say that Alberto Moreno isn’t good enough to be in the side, this is literally just a chance for some rest-bite and hopefully Robertson can right the wrongs of his performance against Stoke for Hull last season. As for the central defenders, it will be Klavan and Matip again, with Lovren probably left out once again due to injury. The only question mark would be the possibility of Joe Gomez coming in for Klavan but I doubt that’ll happen.
Midfield: Emre Can, Gini Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana.
With Emre Can being pronounced fit by Jurgen Klopp in his pre-match presser, I expect the German midfielder to waltz back into the team alongside a changed Liverpool midfield of Gini Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana, who I expect will get his first start of the season after being out with thigh injuries, despite being out of training, which I believe to be precautionary. There was also a lot of talking about Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson after the game against Chelsea on the weekend with many calling for his head after “making 0 interceptions”, which to put it simply, isn’t true. A return for Adam Lallana is also much needed, with the Reds being without one of our more influential players for far too long now. Gini Wijnaldum sat out of the weekend’s game against Chelsea, meaning we could see a wholesale change in midfield.
Attack: Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho
Mo Salah is fantastic, we all know this and he has been one of the best signings that we have made in the Premier League era, out-doing Robbie Fowler in terms of goalscoring in his first dozen Liverpool games. However, we all need a break from time to time and the game against Stoke will be the perfect opportunity for Jurgen Klopp to give the Egyptian King some time to rest his legs. That leaves no question as to who starts in the front three, with Sadio Mane and Bobby Firmino both coming back into the squad having been left out of the starting line-up against Chelsea in favour of Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It’s evident that Jurgen Klopp is trying to man-manage his team game-to-game in order for everyone to remain as fresh as possible, which is easier said than done. Phil Coutinho will back into the front three having been played in midfield last time out.
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.