The Christmas season is upon us and that means a number of football matches will be thrust for our enjoyment. The Premier League is just one of the few leagues that plays games during the festive period and Liverpool are set to kick-start their post-Christmas matches with a home trip against Stoke City.
The Reds had played their last two games away from home but don’t have to deal with traveling in this part of the season as they have back-to-back home games. The first one is on the 27th as they face Stoke City at Anfield.
The Potters did have a poor start to the season but they have steadily climbed to the right end of the table and are in the top four, should the results over the last 10 games be taken into account. Mark Hughes will be hopeful of a great performance from his team again but he will have to do with a few missing faces.
The biggest player out is Marko Arnautovic, the Austrian is suspended for the game and will surely affect the attacking output of the side. That will come as good news for Liverpool as the defence will not have to deal with the mercurial talent who can be world-class one day and rather invisible the next.
The Potters also will be without their goalkeeper Jack Butland and Stephen Ireland, Phil Bardsley and Geoff Cameron, who are all out due to long-term injuries. They could still recall Ibrahim Affelay to star on one wing while Xherdan Shaqiri could be the player on the other side.
Stoke will be a tough team to play against and you can be sure that they will try to hit the Reds on the break. The Merseyside club will be looking to notch up their win on the trot and hopefully an early goal will reduce any nerves the side have.
Mark Hughes will drill his defence really well and the onus will be on the Reds to break the team down. Without Philippe Coutinho in the side, the creativity should stem from the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana while Daniel Sturridge could have a big role to play in the game.
The Englishman came off the bench during the Merseyside derby and played a crucial role in the winning goal. The striker will be hopeful of a starting place in this game and maybe a bit of a break for the likes of Roberto Firmino could be the right mix that Klopp employs to defeat Stoke.
The game will not be an easy one but Liverpool should be the favourites for the tie.