Stoke likely to set a stiff early test for revamped Liverpool
Stoke City and Liverpool have been among the busiest in the Premier League transfer window but it’s the Reds who have made the more high-profile signings.
Resources, of course, differ and by necessity Mark Hughes has been forced to take a bit of a gamble on some players that will be unknown to the majority of fans. Spanish striker Joselu has been their most expensive purchase but will need time to acclimatise. More familiar names include veterans Shay Given, who will compete with Dane Jakob Haugaard for the number one spot following the departure of Asmir Begovic and Thomas Sorensen, and Glenn Johnson – the former England full-back faces an immediate reunion with former team-mates. But Robert Huth, Steven Nzonzi and Wilson Palacios have all left the Potteries and captain Ryan Shawcross will miss the first few weeks of the season with injury.
Nzonzi was on target as Stoke thumped Liverpool 6-1 at the Britannia Stadium in May but Brendan Rodgers’ side had won the three previous meetings between the sides and the visitors are likely to unleash a trio of big-name signings this weekend. England’s James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne are poised to make their competitive debuts but all eyes will be on Christian Benteke.
Liverpool can’t afford to have the kind of start they had last season if they want to put pressure on the established big four. There is no Steven Gerrard, of course, and still a question mark over whether Jordan Henderson can provide the same level of inspiration. Stoke are never an easy proposition on home soil and, with new-season anticipation likely to be much in evidence, Hughes’ men can start with a draw which we have priced up at 11/5. Go large and try a 2-2 correct score at 49/4.
The match kicks off at 4.00pm on Sunday, August 9th at the Britannia Stadium