Stoke City vs. Liverpool FC Preview

By Jack Watson on Sep 9, 11 03:11 PM in Columnists

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Stoke City away. Most players dread this game as it's the most physical they'll face all season. Many call it a war rather than a football match. If you win the war of the Britannia Stadium, you'll walk away with three points... and plenty of bruises.

Liverpool went into the (annoying and unwanted) International break in sparkling form, sending Bolton home with their tails between their legs after knocking three past them at Anfield. In August, the Reds claimed seven points from their three league games and advanced to the third round of the Carling Cup.

No serious problems arose from the International break; Charlie Adam had to sit out of Scotland's Euro 2012 qualifying match against Lithuania with a hip problem. The Scot was back in training with Liverpool when he came back, though, and looks fit enough to play at the weekend.

Steven Gerrard returned to full training this week as his battle against the persistent groin injury looks to be nearing an end. Steven is still aiming to be in the squad for Tottenham Hotspur next week but will not feature against Stoke.

Kenny Dalglish had this to say on Gerrard in a recent press conference: "He's not far away. When Steven is ready to come back it will be a fantastic boost for everybody. The transfer window is shut, so for us it will be a real bonus because it will be like a new player coming back."

Glen Johnson is back training with the first-team as well so Liverpool will soon have a fully-fit squad.

Craig Bellamy is expected to start on the bench following his Deadline Day move from Manchester City.

Stoke's new signing, Peter Crouch, is expected to make his debut against his former club while fellow new-boys Wilson Palacios and Cameron Jerome are hoping to feature. Marc Wilson and Rory Delap will face late fitness tests for the home side.

Head-to-Head

  • Stoke missed out on a first league double over Liverpool in 54 years when they lost 2-0 at Anfield in February; Luis Suarez scored on his debut for the Reds.
  • It was only the second time Stoke had lost to Liverpool in six Premier League clashes (Liverpool two wins, Stoke one win and three draws).
  • Liverpool haven't won at the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League, drawing two and losing one of their three games there.
  • This is the 123rd meeting between these sides. Liverpool have won 62 matches, Stoke 27 and there have been 33 draws.
Stoke City

  • The Potters are unbeaten this season with two draws and one win in the league, and four straight wins in the Europa League.
  • This is only the second time that Stoke have conceded just one goal in their opening three matches of a top-flight season. The previous occasion was in 1976/77.
  • New signing Cameron Jerome is in line to make his 100th career appearance in the Premier League.
  • Peter Crouch has provided 17 Premier League assists over the past three seasons.
Liverpool

  • The Reds have taken seven points from their opening three games this season, which is as many as in 2010-11 (four) and 2009-10 (three) combined
  • Charlie Adam's goal against Bolton was the first time he had scored in the Premier League with his right foot. He scored 11 with his left and one header for Blackpool last season.
  • After beating Bolton on 4 September, Liverpool went top of the Premier League overnight for the first time since 9 May 2009, 840 days previously.
  • Dick Kuyt has scored 49 Premier League goals for Liverpool.
  • Only three players (Marcus Bent, Ashley Cole, Wayne Routledge) have played for more different clubs in the Premier League than Craig Bellamy's six (Coventry, Newcastle United, Blackburn, Liverpool, West Ham, Manchester City).
Stats from BBC.

Prediction

My heart says Liverpool; my head says draw.

Hoping Liverpool can come away from the Britannia with all three points but it's a tough place to go and the Reds don't have the best of records there so I'll punt for a 1-1, Luis Suarez grabbing Liverpool's goal.

Cheers for reading. What is your prediction for the match? Will Liverpool coast to victory or will Stoke stifle the Reds?

Follow me on twitter: @JackWatsonLFC

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