Aug 16, 2013, 5:49 PM EDT
- Stoke City haven’t won at Anfield since 1959.
- Of the 10 PL meetings between the two clubs, Liverpool have only managed two wins.
- Liverpool’s last Opening Day win at home was 2001
As the Premier League season kicks off, Liverpool will host Stoke City, as both clubs eye improvement on last year.
Both clubs experienced disappointing campaigns last season relative to what the clubs are looking to achieve, and the new campaign is an opportunity to erase those failures.
Liverpool, while not a severe disappointment with their seventh place finish last year, still missed out on European competition, and ended up below bitter rivals Everton in the table, which always stings.
Stoke City finished 13th in the league, and while it isn’t a tragic result for a club like Stoke, pretty much everyone 12th and lower were involved in the bitter relegation battle that sucked in almost the entire bottom half of the table. Stoke have never finished in the top half of the table, and the aim is the same as always this year – change that factoid.
Everyone except the Daily Mail knows by now that world-class striker Luis Suarez won’t feature in the match due to his 10-game suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic last season. He does, however, remain on the books for Liverpool and hasn’t left despite a very public campaign to force his sale.
Thanks to Suarez’s ban, new signing Iago Aspas (pictured, left) will be unveiled, and it will be a chance for Liverpool fans to see what the possibility of being without Suarez for the long-term would be like. It’s a scary thought for fans to swallow, but there’s a real possibility that the man who scored 23 league goals for the Reds last year has played his last match at Anfield.
Aspas, coming over from La Liga side Celta de Vigo, is a proven goalscorer to replace Suarez up front, although he is perfectly capable of moving out to the wings when necessary. His numbers reflect this versatility. Two seasons ago with Celta, he scored 23 goals in 34 matches as the club earned promotion from the Spanish second division. Last year in La Liga, he scored 12 goals but also grabbed six assists. Daniel Sturridge will also be availble to compliment the strike force.
Stoke have a new figurehead to be unveiled Saturday as well – new manager Mark Hughes. The Welshman has had a bumpy ride in the Premier League, most recently his miserable failure at Queens Park Rangers that built the foundation for their relegation campaign last year. Hughes has what is presumably his last shot at proving his managerial abilities here at Stoke, and thus he has to make it count.
Hughes has made very few changes to the squad of last year, with one major addition being the swoop for young defender Mark Muniesa on a free transfer from Barcelona. Two Americans could all appear for Hughes’ side against Liverpool, with Geoff Cameron and Maruice Edu available for selection, while Brek Shea works on returning from knee ligament damage.
Can Liverpool break their 12-year Opening Day duck? Will Mark Hughes get his first win with the Potters? You can find out by tuning in live on Saturday at 7:45am ET on NBC to watch Liverpool host Stoke City. And you can watch that game all the Premier League games live via NBC Sports Live Extra.
What they’re saying
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on Suarez saga: “Nothing can sabotage what we are trying to do here,” Rodgers said. “There’s too much good work gone on here for it to be overtaken by anything else.”
Mark Hughes on his public image: “Maybe I’m getting it wrong but I just think there’s a real sense that people want me to do well. I’d like to think people would see the bigger picture but I can understand why they don’t, because probably after QPR I think a lot of people had made their mind up that I was the root of all evil and I was the reason why the club went down last season.”
Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel: “It doesn’t matter who we play against because the beginning of the season is always tough. Every team is full of energy and desire and they want to fight. We know that with Stoke it’s going to be a hard and difficult game for us. But we need a good start to the season and we will do all our best to make sure that happens and we get the three points.”
Lots of people are saying this one could end in a horrifically boring 0-0 draw. According to BBC Sport, Stoke were involved in seven of the 10 matches last season with the lowest ball-in-play time. Liverpool are heavily distracted by Luis Suarez, and their back line is banged up as well. Skrtel is only fit enough to make the bench, and Daniel Agger is expected to play despite his own injury troubles. This could allow Stoke’s massive striker Peter Crouch to exploit their back line and shoot his visiting side to victory in a 1-0 upset.
Mar 10, 2014, 8:44 PM EDT
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Mar 10, 2014, 8:03 PM EDT
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“Kevin made a huge contribution to our qualification for the World Cup, he never let us down and now his dreams have died,” said Holland manager Louis van Gaal.
Mar 10, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT
Like Manuel Pellegrini and his distaste for a certain Swedish official, Wenger is also critical of UEFA slotting in a referee from a non-footballing power.
Mar 10, 2014, 5:58 PM EDT
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Mar 10, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
Djalo, 27, hasn’t found his footing in Lisbon, playing in just three matches since then and spending parts of 2012 and 2013 on loan at Toulouse in Ligue 1, where he appeared 17 times.
Mar 10, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
Arsenal has been handed a boost for their massive Tuesday task of reversing Bayern Munich’s 2-0 advantage in the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.
Mar 10, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
“It’s like playing 1 1/2, 1 3/4 games in terms of damage to your body,” said Ryan Nelsen.
Mar 10, 2014, 3:25 PM EDT
That is not a lousy public high-five for a player, now, is it?
Mar 10, 2014, 2:53 PM EDT
Timbers skipper staying put, as owner Paulson takes to Twitter to rejoice:
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Five teams dominate selections, find out if your favorites were rewarded:
Mar 10, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT
Barcelona have lost two of their last three La Liga matches, can City inflict more UCL heartache on the Catalan club?
Mar 10, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT
Reds are in the red… but Champions League soccer could solve that and increase the club’s financial footing:
Mar 10, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT
After Shea apparently ‘flipped the bird’ Barnsley end his loan deal from Stoke early:
Mar 10, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT
USWNT lost two straight games, winless in three for the first time in 13 years:
Mar 10, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
Find out why the FA has reprimanded a Newcastle player for breaching betting rules, as some PL players continue to break rules:
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See who dazzled and shone above the rest during Week 29:
Mar 10, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT
Two designs left, as NYC FC let their fans pick the franchises new badge ahead of 2015 MLS entry:
Mar 10, 2014, 10:36 AM EDT
PST’s lead writer and editor takes an alternative look at all the action from Week 29:
Mar 10, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT
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