Matthew Sinton previews Liverpool’s monumental Premier League clash with Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium this afternoon.
After a disappointing end to the game against Bournemouth in midweek, Liverpool will be travelling to Stoke for the 3 PM kick off this Saturday hoping to get back on track for a top four finish. With the squad even more plagued by injuries than it was heading into the last game, there is a lot of uncertainty over who will make the starting eleven and which formation they will line up in.
Despite the frustrating late equaliser from Joshua King in midweek, we remain unbeaten in five in the league, having collected 11 points from those games – our best run of form since the new year. With many of the sides competing for the top four yet to play each other, we still have a great chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season.
In order to do that, though, we’ll need to be fully concentrated for our remaining seven fixtures, including tomorrow’s game against a Stoke side who have lost their last three games. Their dreadful form shouldn’t distract us from the fact that this could be a very difficult game, though. Especially away from home, their set pieces could definitely hurt us. It’s not like the lower sides don’t know how to set up against us.
We could, however, combat the way Stoke are likely to set up through a forced change of plan due to our injuries. Sadio Mané’s season looks likely to be over, while Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana certainly won’t be ready for the game.
Phillipe Coutinho is also a doubt, with Klopp unsure whether he will be ready to start tomorrow, he should appear in the squad regardless. Should he not start, a change in formation would surely be a better option than to stick with the 4-3-3. We could see a partnership of Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge, who have been very prolific when playing together in the past.
Lucas will most likely keep his place in midfield for at least another week until Lallana returns to the side. I’ve even heard rumours that Trent Arnold could be set for a midfield role, but I’m not sure Klopp will be ready to throw him in there just yet (although I could see him playing there long term). With all the injuries/doubts considered, I have no idea how we’ll line up but I’ll have a go at predicting something:
Formation: 4-4-2 (diamond) – Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne Jöel Matip, Dejan Lovren, James Milner, Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge.
This end of the season run-in is vital. With all of our rivals facing games in other competitions, we need to really concentrate and grind out results to get that all-important top four spot. Let’s take another step towards that goal with three points tomorrow!