Anfield side travel to the Britannia Stadium to take on a brittle Potters side with a rock solid defence.
Just 11 days after a bad-tempered clash with Everton which saw Marouane Fellaini handed a retrospective ban, Stoke again host Merseyside opposition with Liverpool hoping to record a first Premier League win at the Britannia Stadium.
There was also controversy when these sides met in October, with Potters boss Tony Pulis claiming Reds striker Luis Suarez dived, although on that occasion the FA took no action.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has a very different football philosophy to Pulis, but conceded after the game that “there is no right or wrong way to play football”. Nonetheless, the clash of styles provides an interesting subplot in this fixture.
Whatever the view of the purists, the Potters’ approach is undoubtedly proving effective. They have not lost a top-flight game on home turf since February, and have conceded only three league goals there all season.
Saturday’s draw at Tottenham extended their unbeaten streak to eight games, their best ever run in the Premier League, and saw goalkeeper Asmir Begovic keep his ninth clean sheet, a division high this term.
Stoke are a tough nut to crack this season, and they have also proved awkward opponents for Liverpool in recent years. The Potters have kept clean sheets in four of the previous five league meetings, although the Anfield club did eliminate them from both cup competitions last season.
The Reds strolled to victory in their last game, beating Fulham 4-0 to record their biggest winning margin under Rodgers. They have perhaps been over reliant on Suarez’s goals this season, but have now scored eight times in their last three matches, only one of them netted by the Uruguayan.
Forward reinforcements such as Daniel Sturridge are set to arrive in January so Liverpool, like Stoke, can look forward to the new year with optimism.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
Venue Britannia Stadium
Kick-off 19.45 GMT.
TV Highlights, BBC ONE Match of the Day.
Stoke (Possible, 4-4-1-1) Begovic; Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilkinson; Shotton, Whelan, Nzonzi, Etherington; Walters; Jones.
Out Adam (compassionate leave), Delap (hernia), Wilson (ankle).
Test Owen (match fitness).
Liverpool (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas; Sterling, Shelvey, Dowining; Suárez.
Out Assaidi (knee), Borini (foot), Kelly (knee).
Referee Howard Webb (Matches 13, R2 Y48).
Liverpool have never won at Stoke in the Premier League (D2 L2).
Four of the nine Premier League meetings between the sides have been 0-0 draws, including the last two.
This will be the 100th top-flight meeting between the clubs. Liverpool are looking for their 50th victory.
Stoke have not lost at home in this season’s Premier League. They are unbeaten in their last 15 home league matches – their longest run without a top-flight home defeat since a club record 23-match streak in 1973-74.
The Potters have conceded just three goals in the league at the Britannia Stadium this season.
They have kept the most clean sheets (nine) and conceded the fewest goals (13) in the Premier League this season.
No side has drawn 0-0 more often in the top five European Leagues this season than Stoke City, who have done so five times.
Liverpool won five of their first eight away matches in the Premier League in 2011-12; in this campaign, they have won just two.
Luis Suarez made a goal-scoring debut for Liverpool against Stoke in their 2-0 home win in February 2011. In total, he has scored four goals in five matches against them in all competitions.
Liverpool have not lost on Boxing Day for the past four seasons, since the 1-0 loss at Blackburn in 2006.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
fanatix prediction 0-0, obviously.
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