With just a single point separating the two sides in the Premier League standings, the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final tie is likely to produce plenty of fireworks. The Potters will want to get into a position to add to the League Cup trophy they won back in 1972, while Reds desperately need a morale-boosting result after yet another disappointing defeat.
Even if they currently occupy 10th position in the Premier League standings, Stoke City have been quite impressive this season and they have clearly continued the uptrend under the guidance of Mark Hughes. The club’s stature has improved a great deal since the Welshman took over the reigns from Tony Pulis, with the likes of Bojan Krkic, Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri seriously improving the quality of the squad. As a result, the Potters appear to be playing with confidence and swagger, as witnessed by the impressive triumphs over Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Everton. Stoke City were somewhat unfortunate to lose to West Bromwich last time out as they conceded a last-gasp goal after Geoff Cameron had been sent off, with Mark Hughes set to appeal the red card that could see the USA star banned for three matches. In spite of said defeat, the Potters head into the Liverpool clash in much better mood than the opposition and that is definitely something they will look to take advantage of.
Republic of Ireland star Jonathan Walters could be recalled to the starting line-up, but Mark Hughes is unlikely to make too many changes to his starting line-up.
Marc Muniesa, Shay Given and Stephen Ireland are definitely out, while Charlie Adam is also pushing for a starting berth.
Many Liverpool fans expected success overnight when it was announced that Jurgen Klopp would be appointed the new manager, but the German has found it hard to get the Reds back on track. The team have shown glimpsed of quality, but also had some pretty bad performances, with their away record especially disappointing of late. Liverpool not only lost three of last five matches on the road on all fronts, but also scored just one goal in the process, which is a definite cause for concern ahead of the clash with in-form Stoke, the team that rarely concede at their Britannia Stadium. The Reds have plenty of problems at the moment seeing that Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and James Milner are all sorely missed, as is the real Philippe Coutinho, with the Brazilian largely struggling for form at the moment. Taking also into account that the disappointing 2-0 loss to West Ham must have acted as a major blow to the players’ confidence, we have reason to believe that Liverpool’s poor away run is going to continue.
Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi have both failed to recover in time, but Adam Lallana could be drafted into the side for the Stoke game.
Meanwhile, the likes of James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Martin Skrtel, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings and Jordan Rossiter are all unavailable.
Key Factors to Consider
- A total of 20 goals were scored in last four meetings at Britannia
- Liverpool recorded 1-0 win at Stoke on opening day of current Premiership campaign
- Stoke scored 12 goals in last four home games vs the Reds
- Liverpool registered one goal in last five away fixtures (W1 D1 L3)
- Stoke won four of last five home games without conceding
Stoke City are clearly in much better place than Liverpool at the moment and their home form has been virtually flawless, even when facing England’s top sides. Meanwhile, the Reds are out of confidence, have major issues on the road and are missing quite a few star players, so we are backing the Potters to record a good result ahead of the return match.
Verdict: Stoke Draw no bet
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