Odds: Liverpool 4/9, Draw 19/5, Stoke 87/10
Last season: 0-0
Liverpool have had a pretty good pre-season on the pitch whilst the saga surrounding where Luis Suarez will play his football threatens to be a distraction off it. Having only lost one game and looking very sharp, Liverpool are looking to hit the ground running with Daniel Sturridge looking to make a goal scoring return from injury and fill the - for now - temporary void left by Suarez.
Mark Hughes has a tough opening assignment as he looks to put his nightmare spell at QPR behind him whilst at the same time trying to get Stoke City to play football the way he wants to after the club has taken a physical approach for so long under Tony Pulis – which on the whole has been successful and consolidated their position in the Premier League.
They have kept four clean sheets during pre-season so it could be tough for the hosts to break them down.
It wouldn’t be surprising if we still see Stoke try to maintain some of that physicality to knock Liverpool off their stride to stop the side flowing, if Liverpool start to flow well enough then that could spell danger for the Potters.
If Stoke can still possess a threat from set-pieces then that can test Liverpool, as too often last season the Reds’ conceded goals from free-kicks. This should be an interesting to test to see whether that problem has been addressed or not – but if the Potters are to get a result at Anfield they may have to do something they haven’t done before and that’s score a Premier League goal there.
Liverpool expect Daniel Agger to be fit to partner alongside Kolo Toure – who makes his Premier League debut.
Glen Whelan should be fit for selection at Anfield after recovering from a hamstring injury, with former Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam, along with Jonathan Walters recovering from knocks.
Liverpool are expected to edge this opening game of the season, and hopefully it will avoid a repeat of last season’s goalless affair.
Last meeting between the sides:
Stoke City 3-1 Liverpool.
It was frantic opening five minutes at the Brittania Stadium as Liverpool took the lead inside two minutes after Steven Gerrard slotted home a penalty when Luis Suarez was brought down by Ryan Shawcross.
Jonathan Walters quickly equalised before Kenwyne Jones headed the Potters in front as Stoke overwhelmed a Liverpool side who played very poorly. Jonathan Walters scored a terrific volley just after the half-time break to cap a terrific personal and team performance.
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image: © kuaver