26th December 2012
Stoke may be unbeaten in last eight Premier League matches, but having failed to win any of their last three fixtures, the Potters are unlikely to be satisfied with yet another stalemate. Liverpool, on the other hand, will fancy their chances of getting something from Britannia following the 4-0 triumph over Fulham.
Even if Tony Pulis attempted to adopt a more positive approach this season, the Potters have remained one of the toughest sides in the elite division. They do not score too many goals, just 15 in 18 Premiership games, but their impressive back line has made sure every one of those count. Stoke currently boast the best defensive record in the top flight, having conceded just 13 goals so far, while 5-10-3 record suggests they are extremely hard to beat. Following a slow start to the league campaign, the Potters have shown a lot of improvement over the last couple of months and they are currently on an eight-match unbeaten run. Stoke produced an excellent defensive performance to prevent Tottenham from scoring at White Hart Lane at the weekend, keeping their third clean sheet in four games and they will certainly be looking to do the same against improving Liverpool. Michael Owen should be back in contention, but Rory Delap and Marc Wilson continue to miss out.
With a very thin squad at Brendan Rodgers’ disposal, Liverpool were always going to struggle to fulfill their potential this season. The Reds indeed experienced far too many problems in the opening exchanges, but they might just be able to make this season a success. While doing well to qualify for Europa League knockout stages, the Anfield outfit showed a lot of improvement in the league as well, with the run of three wins in four games having seen them climb to eighth place in the standings. As a result, Liverpool currently sit just five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, but they clearly need to win at Britannia if they want to remain in contention for a top 4 place. Nevertheless, I seriously doubt they will become the first team to beat Stoke at their own ground this season. Raheem Sterling is expected to start after he was rested against Fulham, while Joe Allen is a doubt with a pelvic problem.
Stoke remain a force to be reckoned with at their Britannia and having conceded just three goals there, Liverpool will surely struggle to break their rock-solid defence. With both sides expected to adopt a cautious approach, draw at half-time could be a good option here.
Verdict: Draw at half-time
Best Odds: 11/10