Thursday, January 08, 2009

Match Preview - Stoke City vs Liverpool

Hey guys, before you start asking why did I start doing match previews again after the long hiatus, the following article is not written by me. This is written by Gareth Freeman from BetFair and as a partnership with them, they have kindly provided me with a competent writer.

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Stoke City vs Liverpool

This weekend sees Rafael Benitez and his table topping Liverpool side take the short trip to Staffordshire to face Stoke City. In the reverse of this fixture Stoke somehow managed to survive an Anfield onslaught and came away with a 0-0 draw. I doubt that will be happening at the Britannia Stadium myself, only the craziest individual would spend any of their football betting money on Stoke getting anything out of this game.

I must confess, I haven’t gone out of my way to watch the Potters this season. I did catch their victory against Arsenal though and there was one thing I noticed – they kicked absolute lumps out of Wenger’s side. Arsenal are a little more light-weight than Liverpool, but Stoke do represent a very physical threat. This means that the news Javier Mascherano will be fit for the trip to Stoke is a massive boost. Masch has really proved himself this season as being one of the best battling midfielders in the Premiership and if Stoke do manage to bring the game down to a scrap having the rock-hard Argentine in the side is a major bonus.

On the down-side it looks as if both Robbie Keane and Xabi Alonso could miss this one through injury. Torres should be back to replace Keane but I’m a little worried that Stoke are perhaps not the best opponents to return against! Still if he does play my football betting tip would be to back Torres as last goal scorer, he’s come in for some (unfair in my opinion) criticism lately and getting the winning goal this coming weekend would certainly silence the detractors.

I’ll finish off with a look at this weekend’s opponents. They’ve lost their last four games in all competitions, including an embarrassing FA cup exit to League One side Hartlepool United, so it could be a dangerous time to face them. They’ll be looking to put an end to that slump and I think Tony Pulis has got some belief in that side. They will be missing their best player Ricardo Fuller who is suspended after slapping club captain Andy Griffin in their defeat to West Ham, so basically all their attacks are going to come from throw ins and long balls – best off starting with Sami Hyypia then Rafa!

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