Mark Hughes’s Stoke side have not won any of their last three Premier League matches and they are starting to look nervously over their shoulder as the gap between themselves and the bottom three is starting to diminish, tonight they play host to Liverpool and will be looking for a much welcome three points.
Although they haven’t won in their last three league outings they have picked up two points from a possible nine, so it’s not quite doom and gloom. That said though they are perhaps making life more difficult for themselves than it needs to be.
Last weekend they faced Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and after going ahead thanks to Xhedran Shaqiri’s well taken goal they then conspired to leave South London empty handed. This was thanks to Roy Hodgson’s completing a spirited comeback in the last minute of the game and snatching all three points.
They should in fairness but the game out of reach when 1-0 up, Ryan Shawcross was presented with a perfect opportunity to stab the ball home from close range but it was almost as if he was still programmed to defender move as his effort resembled more the ball being hooked off the line than an actual shot on goal.
And talking of defence this has certainly been an issue for Stoke this season, at 26 goals conceded they have the joint second worst tally of goals shipped in the Premier League. The first 13 matches of this campaign sees them give away an average of two goals per game to their opposition.
It’s that statistic that will make Liverpool sit up and take notice as they will look to take full advantage, they may have come for some defensive criticism of their own especially after their second half capitulation in Sevilla last week but domestically they have only conceded two goals in their last four league outings.
Not only that though but they also possess the current Premier League joint top scorer in Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian international’s return to this competition has been like a duck to water as he scored 10 goals in the first third of the season.
He currently shares the mantle with Tottenham’s Harry Kane but Salah can go clear again tonight should he manage to find the net against a very leaky Stoke. The former Roma forward has been responsible for 40% of Liverpool’s league goals this season. Quite simply there is no understating his contribution so far this season.
And that was no more evident last Saturday when he scored the goal which put Liverpool ahead against defending Premier League champions Chelsea. It however was not enough to give Jurgen Klopp’s men maximum points after they were pulled back by Willian’s late equaliser.
Now whether the Brazilian meant to cross or shoot can be argued, ultimately though he did enough to dink the ball over the helpless Simon Mignolet. The Belgian got a touch to the ball but it was powerless to stop the ball nestling in at the back post.
It is fair to say Mignolet has come in for some criticism as of late but I don’t think you could have volleyed too much at him last weekend. He was simply outwitted by a moment of genius or a pure fluke. I shall leave that one up to you to decide.
A win for Liverpool would see them move above Tottenham and if results go their way they could also move back into the top four. I’m not sure Arsenal will slip up against Huddersfield but I certainly think the Merseyside men will do their bit. An away win for me.
Here is what social media thinks will happen – you can still vote on the outcome
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) November 28, 2017