Liverpool will be looking to shred the gap between leaders Chelsea to six points when they play host to Stoke City on Tuesday.
Scheduled to play on the day after Boxing Day, Liverpool have seen their title rivals – Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City – register victories and the onus will now be on the Reds to restore order.
Jurgen Klopp has transformed his side into one of the best attacking units in the Premier League, and on their day they look absolutely unstoppable. His front line has the right blend of pace, creativity and precision, and all three qualities seem to work in tandem when the Reds have their star players on show.
Philippe Coutinho is one such man who has the capability to turn things around single-handedly for Liverpool. His absence gave Klopp problems as the Reds failed to win their first two games bereft of the services of the Brazilian.
Things picked up after that with wins over Middlesbrough and Everton, and the manager will be hoping that the likes of Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Adam Lallana continue playing the way they are and keep the pressure on Chelsea at the top.
Standing in their way on Tuesday will be a resolute Stoke City side that are performing reasonably well this season. After a torrid start, Mark Hughes’ side have picked themselves up to a satisfactory 12th place on the table.
That being said, the Potters have failed to win any of their last three games and are on the brink of going on another lengthy win-less run this season. Hughes will be hoping that his side breaks the run and comes out with a solid result at Anfield.
In the continued absence of Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan are expected to start at the heart of defence with Simon Mignolet in goal. Full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner have been omnipresent and are likely to start against Stoke.
Moving further up the field, a midfield trio of Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson and Giorginio Wijnaldum is likely to be employed with Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino playing in the attacking positions.
For Stoke, Lee Grant is set to start between the sticks with a centre-back pairing of Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi ahead of him. In midfield, Glenn Whelan and Giannelli Imbula have been a familiar duo and will be named amongst the starters.
Leading the line for the Potters will be Jonathan Walters with assistance from Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan from the wings.
- Liverpool have won five of their last six Premier League games against Stoke, losing the other 6-1 in May 2015.
- The Reds are unbeaten in 15 Premier League home games (W9 D6 L0) – the longest current unbeaten home run in the competition.
- They have the best attack in the Premier League, finding the back of the net on 41 occasions.
- Sadio Mane has had a hand in eight goals in his last nine Premier League appearances (five goals, three assists).
- Joe Allen has scored one goal more this season than he has in his previous four campaigns combined.
- Stoke have failed to score in 11 of their previous 17 trips to Merseyside in the Premier League (against Liverpool and Everton combined).
- Mark Hughes has never won a Premier League game as a manager at Anfield (W0 D4 L6). He also suffered his heaviest defeat as a player in the competition there; 1-7 for Southampton in January 1999.
Watch out for
Simon Mignolet was a much maligned figure last season, but has turned into a hero for Liverpool this time around. Summer signing Loris Karius was expected to take over the goalkeeping responsibilities from the Belgian, but a series of disappointing performances and rookie errors have cost the German a spot in the starting eleven. Mignolet has kept a shutout in both games he has played since replacing Karius and will look to continue his run of cleansheets against Stoke City.
Liverpool 2-0 Stoke City
The Reds have been in fine nick off late and should continue their good run of form against Stoke. Despite the absence of Coutinho, the likes of Mane, Firmino and Origi are good enough to wreak havoc in most Premier League defences. Stoke’s defence has been shaky on occasion and they are likely to concede a couple of goals at Anfield on Tuesday.