Liverpool vs Stoke City Preview:
It will be the 135th meeting between these clubs when these two reputed clubs of English Football take the stage. Who am I talking about?
Of course, it’s Liverpool and Stoke. Liverpool return to Anfield after a breathtaking win at Norwich where goals were scored in huge numbers. While the Liverpool side is gathering momentum slowly after wins against Exeter and Norwich, Stoke City come to face their biggest challenge having scored no goal in their last two fixtures.
A resilient Stoke City’s last trip to Anfield saw the dominant run added to, with Liverpool running out 1-0 winners in October 2014 courtesy of Glen Johnson’s Kop end header, something the full-back will seek to replicate for his current employers on Tuesday night.
After securing a first-leg lead at the Britannia Stadium three weeks ago, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds look to finish the job and secure a shot at winning a record ninth League Cup title.Having produced successive wins in their last two games in the FA Cup and Premier League, Liverpool look to make it three in a row against Mark Hughes’ side in the biggest fixture of the season to date.
Liverpool have won 51 games out of 67 at Merseyside losing only thrice in the process. the Reds are unbeaten at home against Stoke since 1959, and have never lost in a League Cup fixture against the potters.
Stoke possible starting lineup: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Cameron, Whelan, Shaqiri, Walters, Arnautovic; Bojan
Liverpool possible starting lineup: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno; Lucas, Can; Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho; Benteke
Form Guide (Last 10 games, all competitions)
While Mark Hughes had a fit side at the Britannia, He has some injury concerns to deal with ahead of the win-or-bust tie.
Captain Ryan Shawcross is ruled out with muscle damage while Geoff Cameron – who played the first leg in midfield – is also unavailable.
Marko Arnautovic is likely to play despite a slight hamstring issue, but positively for the Stoke boss, Bojan – who was left on the bench for the weekend loss to Leicester – is fit to feature and set to return to the starting XI.
While either of Marc Wilson or Marc Muniesa will replace Shawcross at the back, Glen Johnson is fully fit and is ever ready to make his return to Anfield after a long time. Peter Crouch could earn a rare start with Stoke needing to chase the game.
For Liverpool, Lovren, who has been out of action since sustaining a hamstring injury in the first leg at the Britannia Stadium on January 5, has resumed training this week to ensure he is in contention for the return fixture. He trained after three weeks yesterday in what is a full training session with the team since returning.
Liverpool have also suffered a further injury blow with the news that Clyne sustained a knock to his knee during the dramatic 5-4 win over Norwich City on Saturday.The England full-back is a doubt for the meeting with the Potters as a result, meaning Jon Flanagan could be set for a return to the starting lineup, though the boss is reluctant to put too much strain on the Scouse defender after he recently ended a lengthy lay-off.
The Reds will have to ensure they’re defensively compact to counter the space and deny Stoke’s dangerous front four while replicating the forward movement and pressing shown in the first leg could again prove the difference again on the night.
While Klopp said in the recent interview that Liverpool will have to deal with set pieces better, it will once again be a challenge if Crouch faces his old club.
An early chance for silverware just months into his Anfield reign looks an increasingly realistic proposition for Klopp, and his side must ensure they remain fully focussed and complete the task as they seek trophy glory in next month’s Wembley showdown.