How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Stoke City
After back-to-back defeats at Manchester City and Chelsea, which have seen Liverpool dramatically drop from league leaders to fifth place between Christmas and the turn of the year, it was imperative that Liverpool earned three points against Hull.
The Britannia Stadium is no easy away day and Rodgers will be wary of a potential banana skin slip-up, halfway through a month he will be looking for his side to gain maximum points from.
Mark Hughes’ side have already beaten Chelsea this season, and taken points off Manchester City and, in their last Premier League game, Everton.
Rodgers will be keen for his side not to be added to that list of scalps.
A strong side is needed, and Rodgers both loses and welcomes back key players to and from injury.
Without Daniel Agger, Liverpool will restore Martin Skrtel to the starting XI. In reality, Agger was more temporary cover for Mamadou Sakho, despite a good performance against Hull.
Glen Johnson has looked tired in recent games, but will retain his place at right-back nevertheless, whilst Aly Cissokho will most likely take up responsibilities on the left side of defence, given Jose Enrique and Jon Flanagan’s absences through injury.
Steven Gerrard’s full 90 minutes against Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup last Sunday will have given the Reds captain a hand in regaining match sharpness after a hamstring injury kept him out of most of Liverpool’s festive fixture schedule.
With Joe Allen not available, Gerrard will line up alongside Lucas in the centre of midfield. After an underwhelming start to the season, Lucas will be looking to improve the pace of his game in the second half of this campaign.
The attacking midfield three of Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling will most likely continue to provide Luis Suarez with ammunition up front.
Sterling’s recent form has seen him improve impressively, and is now looking like a confident player against any Premier League defence.
Sterling has scored three and assisted three in his last eight appearances for Liverpool, according to OptaJoe on Twitter, however Stoke’s strength will provide a fresh challenge for the 19-year-old.
Daniel Sturridge is reported to be fit for selection, as per Dominic King in the Daily Mail, however, after six weeks out injured with ankle ligament damage, Rodgers may be cautious to throw him back in at the deep end.
Expect Suarez to start as the lone striker, supported by Sterling, Coutinho and Henderson.
Liverpool will hope the game will open up the opportunity to introduce Sturridge into the side against the less fresh legs of Stoke’s defence.