Recent results could see Jurgen Klopp name an unchanged side against Stoke, but the boss has some welcome alternatives to consider as his squad depth slowly improves.
Liverpool host Mark Hughes’ side as they resume their tough Christmas schedule with the first instalment of an Anfield festive double-header.
The Reds arrive filled with belief after a dramatic derby victory, and will look to use their strong home form to keep pressure on Chelsea with a third straight win against the Potters, who haven’t won a league clash at Anfield since 1959.
Klopp named the same starting XI in his side’s latest wins at Middlesbrough and Everton, but having seen his substitutes, particularly, Daniel Sturridge, make the crucial difference at Goodison Park, the boss could be tempted to alter his lineup.
- Joel Matip “getting better” but still struggling with ankle injury and could miss out
- Stoke clash too early for Philippe Coutinho who is yet to make full training return
- Klopp could name unchanged XI for third successive game
- Simon Mignolet to continue in goal following successive impressive displays and clean sheets
- Sturridge hopeful of starting role after derby impact but substitute place likely with Klopp to “manage” his comeback
Liverpool’s XI vs. The Potters
Having been down to bare bones in recent weeks, Klopp’s options have received a much-needed boost with the comebacks of Can and Sturridge,
Retaining consistency with an unchanged side would allow the in-form players to use the confidence built up from successive wins to continue their strong form.
Crucially, this would leave Klopp with some quality options to turn to if required, in the likes of Can and Sturridge, while also allowing the fit-again duo to avoid returning to extensive action too early.
Sticking with the same team for a third game in a row would see Liverpool look like this:
However, Stoke’s visit is the first of three tough games in seven days, and Klopp could feel changes are important to keep displays and personnel fresh over a hectic period.
After his derby-winning impact, a fresh-legged Sturridge could enter to spearhead the attack in place of Origi, flanked by Firmino and Mane.
The Belgian’s goal-scoring form has been superb but his performances are starting to labour – perhaps due to match action coming at once with little respite – and fresh energy in attack while also preserving his own will be vital for a gruelling week.
A second alteration could come at the opposite end, should Matip prove his fitness in time to play.
Klavan and Lovren were both excellent at Goodison Park, but the Cameroonian is clearly the Reds’ key centre-back and if he’s fit, he should return to re-form the preferred defensive paring alongside the Croatian.
These changes would see Liverpool start with this XI against the Potters:
Having made a welcome return to winning form at a crucial time, Liverpool must use their growing momentum to come out all guns blazing at Anfield and secure another vital three points.