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    Liverpool vs Stoke City Match Preview


    Liverpool and Stoke both need a win for contrasting reasons when the sides meet at Anfield in the first of this weekend's Premier League matches.

    The Reds have the chance to move into second place but they may chose to rest several key players ahead of Wednesday's Champions League tie with Roma in the knowledge that their top-four status has almost been secured.


    Paul Lambert's Stoke side find themselves on the brink of relegation having failed to win any of their previous 11 games, while another defeat on Saturday would give the club an almost impossible task of survival.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool head into Saturday's encounter against Stoke in confident mood having already put one foot in the Champions League final following Tuesday's emphatic 5-2 victory over Italian side Roma.

    Jurgen Klopp's team produced a dazzling performance to take a 5-0 lead after 67 minutes but two late goals from the visitors ensured that they at least head into the return leg in Rome with a glimmer of hope.

    Newly-crowned PFA Player of the Year Mo Salah scored his 42nd and 43rd goals of the campaign against his former side and he will move closer to Ian Rush's club record of 47 goals over the course of a season if he scores again this weekend.

    Klopp may be forgiven for already having one eye firmly fixed on Wednesday's trip to Roma and he could decide to rest several of his players to keep them fresh at such a crucial stage of the season.


    A long injury list has somewhat limited his options, however, with the knee ligament damage sustained by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Roma on Tuesday night making him the latest player to be ruled-out this weekend.

    The former Arsenal midfielder will now miss the remainder of the season, while the dead leg that Sadio Mane picked-up is likely to hand a chance to either Danny Ings or Dominic Solanke in attack.

    Liverpool have won eight of their last nine league encounters against Saturday's opponents, although Stoke did win at Anfield two years ago in the League Cup semi-finals despite losing the tie on penalties.

    Stoke City

    Stoke have produced some battling performances over the past few weeks but have failed to pick-up enough points to steer themselves away from the relegation zone with three matches remaining.

    The Potters suffered a four-game winless run against Premier League heavyweights Manchester City, Everton, Arsenal and Tottenham, while they took the lead in the recent encounters against West Ham and Burnley but had to settle for a draw.

    Paul Lambert's side, who have only accumulated six points from their last 11 matches, will need to come away from Anfield with at least a draw or they run the risk being cut further adrift in the fight against relegation.

    The club could be relegated this weekend if results are not favourable, although 17th-place Swansea face a tricky match at home to last season's champions Chelsea and still have to play Stoke on the final day of the campaign.

    A victory on Saturday would put Lambert's side only one point adrift of The Swans in the table, although the Potters would still possess an inferior goal difference as well as having played two more matches.

    History is very much against Stoke this weekend as they have won only one game away from home all season, a 1-0 victory over Watford in October, while their last league victory at Anfield came in March 1959.

    Xherdan Shaqiri is the club's top scorer this campaign with seven Premier League goals, one ahead of Mame Biram Diouf and one more than both Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Peter Crouch who have scored five times apiece.

    Liverpool Team News

    Jurgen Klopp is likely to rest several players ahead of Wednesday's Champions League tie against Roma, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane all candidates to miss out this weekend.

    Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno both deputised in the full-back positions during last Saturday's 2-2 draw against West Brom, while the club have Nathaniel Clyne fit again after he missed the game with a muscle problem.

    Strikers Dominic Solanke and Danny Ings will both be vying for a spot in the starting XI in-place of Sadio Mane, who is likely to be preserved for midweek having picked-up a dead leg on Tuesday night.

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) joins an injury list that includes Joel Matip (thigh), Adam Lallana (hamstring) and Emre Can (back), so the amount of options available for Klopp to rotate his squad are limited.

    Stoke City Team News

    Stoke are likely to make one change from last weekend's 1-1 draw against Burnley, with former Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson unlikely to feature having been substituted after 59 minutes due to a groin injury.

    On loan Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma is expected to take his place, while Peter Crouch will return to Anfield to lead the Stoke attack despite scoring only four goals in 28 league games during 2017-18.

    Paul Lambert has stated that Jese Rodriguez and Saido Berahino will not be available for first-team selection, with Jese failing to report for training earlier this month and Berahino out-of-favour since turning up late for a reserve fixture.

    Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting remains on the sidelines with a groin strain, while Kostas Stafylidis will also miss this weekend's trip to Anfield as he has failed to recover from a fractured rib.

    Head-to-head

    Stoke City have won away at Liverpool on only four occasions in the club's history, with three of those victories coming in the league between 1955 and 1959 and the most recent occurring in the League Cup semi-finals of 2016.

    The Potters have fared slightly better at the bet365 Stadium in recent years having won four and drawn two of the last 12 meetings in all competitions, although four of Liverpool's six victories in that sequence have come in the past four encounters. 

    Liverpool and Stoke have had 19 encounters in the Premier League, with The Reds coming out on top in 10 of those matches, their opponents winning on four occasions and a further five games ending in draws.

    The two teams have met a total of 139 times in all competitions, with Liverpool prevailing on 73 occasions compared to Stoke's 30 victories, although 36 of those matches have been drawn.

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 2-0 Stoke City
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Stoke City Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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