Buoyed by the remarkable 5-4 triumph over Norwich at Carrow Road, Liverpool will be looking to keep hold of the one-goal advantage from the first leg and secure their progress to the League Cup final. Stoke City may have suffered a 1-0 defeat in the first match, but they certainly cannot be written off just yet.
Liverpool’s last-gasp victory against Norwich will go down as one of the most exciting games in the current Premier League season, and no doubts Jurgen Klopp was delighted to see his side bag five goals at Carrow Road, even if Adam Lallana’s winner ended up costing him a pair of glasses. But, the German coach was understandably disappointing with his side’s defensive showing, and sorting out his leaky back line should now be his number one priority. There have been plenty of positives as far as attacking department is concerned, with Klopp confirming that Roberto Firmino is now his number one centre forward, after the Brazilian struggled in the attacking midfield role. But, seeing that they carry a one-goal advantage into the return leg against Stoke, the Reds will have to show improvement at the back if they want to make it to the Capital One Cup final, and chances are the manager will opt for a cautious approach on Tuesday evening, similar to the one that earned them a 1-0 victory at Britannia three weeks back.
There have been no fresh selection worries for Jurgen Klopp, but Adam Lallana and Steven Caulker are pushing for starting places.
Meanwhile, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovren, Danny Ings, Joe Gomez, Martin Skrtel and Jordan Rossiter continue to miss out.
Stoke City have been enjoying a very good season so far, impressing in both Premier League and the Capital One Cup, but the Potters also need to finish the campaign strongly. Their hopes of securing European qualification through league finish suffered a major blow as Mark Hughes’ charges were hammered by leaders Leicester City at the weekend, with the Britannia Stadium outfit largely disappointing throughout and mustering mere two shots on goal. And having previously played out a goalless draw against Arsenal, Stoke City have now failed to score in two successive matches. Taking also into account that they were unable to register a goal in the first leg against Liverpool, they clearly face an uphill task in an attempt to overturn the one-goal deficit. In-form winger Marko Arnautovic was sorely missed against Leicester, and considering that he will not be in the best possible shape at Anfield, Stoke’s attacking problems look set to continue.
The Austria hotshot is expected to recover from a hamstring injury in time to play, while Xherdan Shaqiri has returned into action after a similar problem.
Peter Odemwingie is also back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, with Geoff Cameron and Shay Given the only unavailable footballers at the moment.
Key Factors to Consider
- Under 1.5 goals were scored in three of last five meetings between Stoke and Liverpool
- Liverpool recorded 1-0 wins in last two home games vs Stoke
- Five goals were scored in their last five meetings at Anfield
- Stoke failed to score a single goal in last two fixtures
- Liverpool kept two clean sheets in last four home matches
Liverpool may have scored five at the weekend, but the midweek game against Stoke should be much more similar to the clash played at Britannia, considering that the Reds will guard their advantage and their misfiring opponents will struggle to keep the tie alive.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 7/10