Writer: Lloyd Reddin
Date:Friday January 13 2012
14th January 2012
Stoke City travel up the M6 to face League Cup Semi Finalist`s Liverpool at Anfield. The game will mark the 400th game in charge for Stoke`s manager Tony Pulis, who is the 5th longest servicing manager at the Potteries club.
Pulis has some way to go if he is to have the longest reign at the club, that of Tony Waddington who was in charge for 764 games.
The Stoke manager told the club`s official website: "'It's a great achievement to get to 400 games and I consider myself very fortunate to have managed the Football Club for this period of time."
This will be the third meeting between the clubs after Jon Walters penalty was the difference between the two sides in Stoke`s league win earlier in the season whilst a brace from Luis Suarez was enough for Liverpool to come out 2-1 with victory at Britannia Stadium in the League cup.
Liverpool come in to the game on the back of a first leg League Cup tie 1-0 victory over league leaders Manchester City on Wednesday night.
Stoke will be looking to win at Anfield for the first time in over 50 years, although the Potters are going into this game having won 4 out of their last 5 away matches.
Jan Molby believes Liverpool shouldn`t be complacent over Stoke and that Andy Carroll has an important role to play for the reds. He told Liverpool`s official website: 'We all know what to expect. Stoke play very direct and take no prisoners
'They will go piling in and we must match them physically.
'We need a physical presence against Stoke and I think Andy Carroll will come in handy in both penalty boxes."
Tony Pulis realises the threat Liverpool possess and was very impressed by their midweek display. He told the Stoke Sentinel: "I thought they were very good first half, much better than City,' he said. 'In the second half they did what they had to do to win.
'We are obviously under no illusion about the task ahead this weekend, but we will go there and give our best and see what we come away with.'
Liverpool will be out Luis Suarez who continues to serve his 9 match ban for racially abusing Manchester United`s Patrice Evra, whilst Jay Spearing is likely to miss the match due to the hamstring injury he picked up over Manchester City in midweek.
Likely Line up: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique, Henderson, Gerrard, Adam, Downing, Kuyt, Carroll
The now fully fit Steven Gerrard is always the one to watch at Anfield, but with Andy Carroll having a point to prove especially with the absent of Luis Suarez, Stoke`s backline needs to stay alert.
Stoke have a mini defensive crisis with Jonathan Woodgate, Ryan Shotton and Marc Wilson all doubts for the encounter although Pulis could welcome back local lad Andy Wilkinson who has recovered from his knee injury. Matthew Etherington, Peter Crouch and Thomas Sorensen are likely to be recalled after being rested in the F.A. Cup.
Likely line up: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Upson, Pennant, Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington, Crouch, Walters
With Shotton unlikely to start Jermaine Pennant could get a run out over his old club and will be chomping at the bit to prove a point at Anfield. The same goes for Peter Crouch who has only ever scored one goal over Liverpool and will be hoping to put that record straight.
Stoke have not won at Anfield since 1959 and have since lost 39 games and drew 9 at Anfield, the most recent being a 0-0 draw in 2008.
Liverpool have only won one of the last four league meetings over Stoke.
Liverpool have only won 4 home games this season, the same amount as Stoke have won away this season, although Liverpool are unbeaten at home.
Stoke have only lost one of their last eight Premier League games. (vs Manchester City 3-0)
Howard Webb is the man in the middle at Anfield. He has handed out 49 yellow cards and 2 red cards this season. This will only be the second time he has refereed Stoke this season and the first time he has refereed Liverpool.
After some brave defending by Stoke, Liverpool will break through the resistance and grab a couple of goals. Not one for the neutrals, but whenever is a Stoke game, especially away from home. Liverpool 2 (Adam, Kuyt) Stoke 1 (Crouch)
Stoke (WBA (h))
Liverpool (Bolton (a))
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Date:Friday January 13 2012
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