Liverpool vs. Stoke City: Match Preview

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Roberto Firmino (R) of Liverpool celebrates after team-mate Sadio Mane scored the winning goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on December 19, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

After a shock defeat at Bournemouth and dropped points at home against West Ham United, Liverpool have turned things around with back-to-back wins. Their latest triumph came in a dramatic derby victory against Everton. Next up for the Reds is a return home to face an inconsistent Stoke City side on Tuesday.

Liverpool vs. Stoke City: Match Preview

After a poor start to the season that saw the Potters sitting at the bottom of the Premier League, Mark Hughes’ side turned things around with three consecutive wins.

However, with consecutive draws more recently, Stoke have fallen to 11th after only one win in their last four games. With their latest 2-2 draw against ten-man Leicester City, many Stoke fans have been calling for their team to find some consistency entering the busy Christmas period.

Stoke have struggled against Liverpool in previous years, winning only twice in their last ten Premier League matches. Yet Liverpool supporters will still be fearful of the Potters after suffering a 6-1 defeat two seasons ago.

Players to watch

Former Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen has impressed since his move to the North West over the summer and has netted five times in 16 appearances for Stoke this season. Allen has also played an important defensive role, winning 47 tackles this season.

The midfield battle between Joe Allen and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson could prove decisive in the outcome of the game. Another key area will be the battle between Liverpool striker Divock Origi and Stoke defender Bruno Martins Indi. Origi has been in fine form since taking a place in the starting line-up, scoring five goals in his last six appearances since filling in for the injured Phillipe Coutinho.

Liverpool’s improved defending

With the recall of Simon Mignolet as the side’s starting goalkeeper, Liverpool have kept back-to-back clean sheets in their previous two matches. Mignolet has looked a much more confident player than his predecessor Loris Karius and has made key saves in crucial moments.

The introduction of Ragnar Klavan at centre-back for Liverpool has also improved their defensive play. Establishing a solid partnership with Dejan Lovren, the pair were able to contain Romelu Lukaku en route to the team’s derby win against Everton.

The Reds will look to continue their defensive resurgence on Tuesday. But with Joel Matip expected back from injury, it will be interesting to see if Jürgen Klopp will stick with Lovren and Klavan.

Team news

Liverpool will be encouraged by the recent return of striker Daniel Sturridge from injury and could also have Joel Matip set to return from an ongoing ankle problem. Meanwhile, Stoke could see defenders Marc Muniesa and Phil Bardsley return from injuries in time for the Anfield clash.

Verdict

Stoke have impressed at times this season but have a poor record against Liverpool in recent years. They can cause all kinds of problems for the home team with their physical approach, yet Liverpool’s clinical attacking threat will ultimately prove too much for the Potters.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Stoke City

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