26 Jan 2016

Liverpool XI vs. Stoke: Defender 'can't play'; massive injury boost; 'brilliant' youngster replaces Moreno?

It's a little depressing to admit, but Liverpool's best chance of a trophy these days appears to the execrably named 'Capital One Cup', and the Reds are just one game away from making it to the final of this year's competition. After beating Stoke 1-0 away in the first leg, it's fair to say that Liverpool are (and should be) favourites for tonight's game, but with the club's middling home record this season, nothing can be taken for granted.

Klopp's pre-match updates:

* On Nathaniel Clyne: “He got a knock. I think we should leave him out of training and leave him over night".

* On Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure: "We’ll have to see in the next 24 hours what’s up with Kolo and Mama [Sakho] as Caulker can't play".

* On Dejan Lovren: "Dejan after three weeks trained yesterday, a complete session. That was good".

* On Jon Flanagan: "We love Flanno. But he’s been out a long time, and 90 minutes is not the best thing."

* Stoke boss Mark Hughes has also confirmed that Shawcross will miss the game, which is a potential boost for Liverpool.

If Lovren has only trained once in three weeks then he's clearly not match-fit, and it'll be a gamble to start him tonight. Steven Caulker is ineligible for game, so that leaves Sakho and Toure as the only available central defenders.

That said, Tiago Ilori and Emre Can can deputise at the back, but it's doubtful that Klopp will trust Ilori in such an important game.

My preferred lineup:

---------------- Ward
Randall --- Toure - Can --- Smith
------- Hendo - Allen - Milner
-------- Lallana - Teixiera
------------ Firmino

* Toure is in great form right now, and is (arguably) less likely than Sakho to get injured. As such, I'd have Sakho on the bench, and share the game between the two.

* Lallana grabbed a goal and an assist at Norwich (i.e. he actually did his job for a change), so he deserves to start. Hopefully he'll be able to build on that and contribute more regularly over the second half of the season.

* Liverpool's defence was shambolic against Norwich, and Moreno in particular had a 'mare. Time for Smith - hailed last week as 'brilliant' by Jamie Carragher - to stake his claim (plus, Moreno gets a rest).

* Klopp is unlikely to go with Teixeira, so it'll probably be Jordon Ibe alongside Lallana.

* Mignolet continues to be an accident waiting to happen. Klopp won't do it, but I'd give Ward a chance.


You have until Tuesday 19:45pm (GMT) to participate.

* 20 Points: First goalscorer.

* 20 Points: Collective number of yellow cards (Both teams combined).

* 30 Points: Collective number of corners (LFC).

* 50 Point Triple-Whammy: Perfect score + First goalscorer + yellow cards (Possible points total: 120)

* The Gunnery Sergeant Hartman Mega-Bonus: 100 points for Perfect score + First goalscorer + yellow cards + number of corners (Possible points total: 200)

My Prediction: 1-1. First goalscorer: Crouch. 4 yellow cards. 8 corners.

This is the kind of set-piece coaching needed by Liverpool's shambolic defence ;-)

Author: Jaimie K


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