MATCH PREVIEW: Stoke V Liverpool
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Injuries for Liverpool mean Daniel Sturridge will still be unavailable after apparently suffering another setback during recovery. According to Jurgen the forward was unable to attend one session and he would rather wait until Daniel has strung together some full sessions before risking him for a start.
Liverpool are also without defender Martin Skrtel and both Milner and Henderson in the middle of the park. For Stoke they are looking relatively strong with just Muniesa and Ireland unavailable to feature.
The last time the two sides met was back in August of 2015. A single goal from Philippe Coutinho was enough for the Reds to get the win during that fixture. Most Reds however will remember vividly the final game of the 2014/2015 season after Stoke absolutely battered us at the Britannia. The Potters put six goals past Liverpool and Steven Gerrard only managed to find a consolation goal in his final game for the club after 70 minutes.
Our prior visit to the Britannia though in January 2014 ended slightly better, Liverpool picked up all three points in a high scoring game that ended 5-3. On the scoresheet for the Reds were; Suarez (x2), Gerrard and Sturridge. Ryan Shawcross also found the back of his own net.
- In Liverpool's last five meetings in cup competitions with Stoke, the Reds have won on every occasion.
- Stoke have failed to score in just one of their last 13 games in the league cup.
- The Reds have reached the semi-final of the league cup two years on the trot for the first time since 1987.
This will be a very tough game for Liverpool I feel and I'm extremely pleased that the semi-final is over two legs. Stoke have lost two out of their last five in the league which is a form record matched by Liverpool but you have to feel that the Potters have been playing more consistent football of late.
What also worries me is that Stoke are exactly the kind of side that the Reds have been struggling against, they are very hard to breakdown but also thanks to players like Shaqiri and Arnautovic they can also punish in front of goal.
Liverpool's main hope in my opinion is an improvement in the link up with Christian Benteke coupled with a better performance from the likes of Firmino and Coutinho who are both capable of flustering defences with their flair.
My prediction however is a score draw followed by (hopefully) a win at Anfield.
If like me you think the game is going to end in a draw on Tuesday evening, most bookies are offering odds of 2/1.
Several games against Stoke in the past have ended in a high scoreline. If you think the league cup tie is going to produce a similar outcome you can get odds of 33/1 with bet365 for a total of six goals in the match.
For first goalscorers, Paddy Power are offering the best odds at the moment on Christian Benteke at 11/2. You can also get odds of 11/1 with the same bookies for Jordon Ibe who is definitely due a goal if he starts.
Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!