Tuesday 27th September 17.15
Liverpool’s form slide at the beginning of December looks to have been successfully addressed. Two away wins with no goals conceded will tend to do that for you. They are still without the services of Philipe Coutinho and his compatriot, Roberto Firmino, also looks like could do with a rest but Daniel Sturridge is back to offer more depth up top. Whether the mercurial marksman starts or not isn’t known yet but, as frustrating as he can sometimes be, his maverick skill set can be just the job to unlock stubborn defences.
Stoke, by contrast, haven’t had a great December, drawing two and losing one of their last three. Still, after a fairly disastrous opening to their league campaign, the Potters put in the work necessary to see them sit comfortably mid-table and a mere three points off 7th placed Southampton at the time of writing. Unfortunately for them, they are still without Marko Arnautovic as the Austrian forward is stilling serving a suspension for a straight red card.
Whilst Stoke are really only in with a chance of Europa League football next season, Liverpool hold higher hopes for themselves. They are, after all, 2nd in the league and were 1st prior to being overtaken by the Chelsea juggernaut. There is nothing they can do about the form of the current league leaders but they can control the quality or otherwise of their performances. Continue to win and they keep the pressure on Chelsea. Falter and they hand them the initiative as well as leaving the door open for those creeping up behind to sneak past. Whatever happens, their fate is in their hands.
Stoke up for the fight
They won’t have it easy against Stoke, though. Mark Hughes and his men are one of the form teams in the league and have taken as many or more points than every other team bar Liverpool and Chelsea over the last 10 games. Factor in their dropping seven points from their last three games and it looks all the more impressive. They do have trouble converting chances, however. Joe Allen, a midfielder, is their highest scorer in the league with five goals and that is a significant impediment to their hopes of scoring an away win here.
All things considered, one has to fancy Liverpool to win out here. They’ve got the players, the form and the home advantage on their side and anything less than three points will feel like a defeat. Stoke will put it up to them and it will likely be far from a walkover but it’s got to be the home team for the win. Best price there is 4/13 and comes by way of 888Sport.