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 28, 2015, 1:39 PM EDT
The Canaries finished in 7th place last season in the Veikkausliiga, Finland’s top-flight.
Mar 28, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT
Should the States’ losses in friendlies represent anything other than a concern at the lack of US youth readiness for the big stage?
Mar 28, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT
This likely comes as a surprise to Liverpool fans, as Johnson is widely treated rightly or wrongly as a scapegoat by Reds supporters.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:37 AM EDT
Does the embattled USMNT coach have a point? I’m again bracing for the comment section when I say… I think so.
Mar 28, 2015, 7:55 AM EDT
The States are 1-4 in their last five matches, all four coming on the road (Colombia, Ireland, Chile and Denmark).
Mar 27, 2015, 11:35 PM EDT
Roundup of Euro 2016 qualifying matches from Saturday.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
Both Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling will most likely be out of England’s friendly vs. Italy on Tuesday.
Mar 27, 2015, 8:52 PM EDT
Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahmovic buries a strange one.
Mar 27, 2015, 8:20 PM EDT
England trounced Lithuania 4-0 in a Euro qualifier for their seventh-straight win since the World Cup, and captain Wayne Rooney likes what future lies ahead for his country.
Mar 27, 2015, 6:42 PM EDT
22-year-old Ventura Alvarado asserts that he would like to play for USMNT in the long term.
Mar 27, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
Manager Chris Coleman say Gareth Bale is only focused on the Wales’ “job in hand.”
Mar 27, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT
Suarez doesn’t think he could be classified as hooligan after his biting incidents.
Mar 27, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
The New England Revolution have been on the losing end early in the season before.
Mar 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
No first cap just yet for Kane, though he’s expected to come off the bench in the second half.
Mar 27, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT
A resounding result for the 2016 Olympics hopefuls, away from home.
Mar 27, 2015, 12:18 PM EDT
Stoke City are on the verge of their first-ever top-10 finish in the Premier League, and Mark Hughes has been rewarded for his success.
Mar 27, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT
Another bitter injury blow for Juventus, who now have just one fit, first-team central midfielder.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT
Lampard is in the Big Apple, where he’ll spend time with his future teammates and watch them play Sporting KC.
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