Next Up: Stoke (a)

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Liverpool’s first league game of 2009 sees them travel to Premier League newcomers Stoke City, looking to avenge the 0-0 draw at Anfield earlier this season.

Rafa Benitez will hope to have midfielders Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano available after both limped out of the FA Cup win at Preston last Saturday.

Striker Fernando Torres will be in contention for his first start since recovering from a hamstring injury after he made a sub appearance and scored late in the win at Preston.

Dirk Kuyt will return to the side, most likely on the right side of midfield. Full back Fabio Aurelio should be available after he returned from injury as a late sub at Preston, and right back Alvaro Arbeloa could return after missing the festive period. Centre back Martin Skrtel is also fit again.

The last time Liverpool played at the Britannia Stadium was back in 2000 in the League Cup, when they enjoyed an 8-0 win – anything remotely close to that would ensure the new year continues as the last one ended, having defeated Newcastle 5-1 last time out to maintain top spot in the title race.

The match is live on Setanta Sports, kick off 5:30pm (UK).

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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