Liverpool and Stoke City meet for the fourth time in all competitions this season at Anfield on Sunday, with the both sides looking to continue their push for a European place by emerging with all three points.
The hosts still have a chance of going one better by winning the Europa League, and will be in a confident mood after earning a deserved draw away to Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their quarter-final tie. Eyes will inevitably be set on the return fixture and fatigue will come into play for this one, but there is meanwhile a pressing need to win here as Jurgen Klopp has not been able to celebrate a win in the Premier League since the first weekend of March.
There has been a lot of good football played by the Reds in their last two outings as they always looked threatening against title hopefuls Tottenham with Philippe Coutinho instrumental, while in Germany the much talked about decision to start with Divock Origi as the lone striker emphatically paid off. The Belgian showcased his raw talent, and the immense physical strength that he possesses, holding off many an experienced campaigner in the Dortmund defence. He will now be in contention to start this one, with his self-belief having soared.
This is another tremendous season for Stoke as their objectives become gradually higher year on year, but they can still be immensely frustrating at times, as proved by the loss of a comfortable two-goal lead at home to Swansea City last weekend to only end up with a draw. The squad is full of injuries at present, but there was still a considerable gulf between the two sides in that encounter, where they were just guilty of cruising that little bit too much. If manager Mark Hughes can eradicate that, then exciting times lie ahead for the club.
This match is an opportunity to partially avenge the agonising defeat that the Potters suffered on penalties in their two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final, as well as to collect a third win in four away league games. Although they laid their top-flight foundations on home success, Stoke now seem equally – if not more – comfortable playing on the road, so will be far from daunted ahead of kick-off. However, it will be a test of the credentials of goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard, who was a little nervy on his league debut.
Jordan Henderson will be out for the remainder of the season for Liverpool, so Joe Allen will replace him in a midfield that is also deprived of the presence of Emre Can due to suspension.
Ryan Shawcross and Xherdan Shaqiri are both back available for the depleted visitors, who have doubts over Marko Arnautovic and Glenn Whelan.
Last Meeting: It seemed set to end in another home stalemate for Liverpool in November 2014 as they entered the closing stages at 0-0, but the determination of Glen Johnson proved decisive as he bravely headed in the winner. Stoke had come close as Bojan Krkic saw an effort come back off the crossbar, but they left with nothing.
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