Out of form Liverpool entertain Stoke City at Anfield on Saturday. Liverpool will be looking to bounce back from three consecutive defeats in the Premier League with a much needed three points at 15:00 hours on Saturday. Liverpool have beaten Stoke in their last two encounters against the Potters, 5-3 away last season and 1-0 on the opening day of last season.
Stoke are a single place and point higher than Liverpool. Both sides won’t be satisfied with the starts they have made. Liverpool are without a win in their last 5 games, losing 4 of those 5. Stoke have just the 1 win in their last 5, with 3 losses.
Mame Diouf is, in my opinion, Stoke’s biggest danger this weekend. The Senegalese international has taken to the high demands of the Premier League very well since joining from Bundesliga side, Hannover 96, in the summer. Diouf is very quick and very physical for a striker who isn’t the biggest. Stoke have played a lot of their football focusing on counter-attacking this season, too. With Diouf’s pace, along with the likes of Victor Moses and Bojan, Liverpool will have to very wary of the breaks from the Potters.
Peter Crouch may also play for Stoke against his former club. Crouch’s height will no doubt send the Liverpool defenders all over the place and close to collapsing. That seems to happen whenever Liverpool face someone who is over the height of 6 foot.
Liverpool’s performance improved ever so slightly on Wednesday night, as they managed to get a point in the chilly Bulgaria. For the most of the game, they looked solid at the back, until the closing stages. Kolo Toure’s inclusion in the team is why this happened, without doubt. Toure made a slight mistake for Ludogorets’ first goal. But, the Ivorian, is our best defender available at the moment with Sakho injured. That’s my opinion.
I’d like to see a similar back four to what we had on Wednesday night. The only change I’d make is Moreno in for Johnson, because Johnson’s form has been abysmal of late. Also, Moreno’s just the better footballer.
Steven Gerrard played the full game on Wednesday and I’d like to see him come out of the side. I’m not sure if it would be him being rested, or dropped. Gerrard played better in the more advanced role he occupied in midweek. Gerrard coming on as an impact sub is something different to what we have and I think teams would have to think of another way to defend against Gerrard behind the striker because of his intelligence and tremendous technical ability.
Emre Can for Gerrard. Can playing as the deepest midfielder with Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson helping the German out in the midfield three. Henderson managed to grab himself a goal in Bulgaria. That should do his confidence a world of good, as his form hasn’t been too good recently.
Rickie Lambert looks to be gathering some form, finally. The English striker has got himself his first two goals for the club in his last two games. Lambert managed to pounce on some hesitancy in the Ludogorets defence in midweek, before heading home. Lambert will be looking to make it three consecutive goals for the reds on Wednesday. Balotelli’s reportedly still out with an injury. The Italian hasn’t played since Liverpool’s loss to Chelsea.
Raheem Sterling looked more himself on Wednesday, too. Sterling looked to take on the Ludogorets defenders at every possible point, which he hasn’t done in recent weeks. When Raheem is playing well, he’s arguably Liverpool’s best and most influential player. So let’s hope the 19 year old can maintain his high level performance on Saturday and cause the Stoke defence multiple problems.
Adam Lallana is the other player I’d start in the front three. Lallana will be fresh as he didn’t take any part at all in midweek, so perhaps that was part of Rodgers’ planning. Lallana proved last week at Selhurst Park that he linked up well with Rickie Lambert with a terrific assist. Lallana gets Lambert’s style of play the most out of anyone, due to how long they’ve been playing together. Lallana has shown since arriving at Anfield, that on his day, he can be almost unplayable due to his fantastic dribbling, flair and movement. Lallana will do well against Stoke, if given the chance.
I think the 4-3-3 formation would work. The midfield would definitely excite me due to its energy and speed. All three are very intelligent footballers, too. This is the side I’d opt with, and I hope Rodgers does, too: