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.
Oct 1, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT
The Gunners provided one of their most stunning performances of the season on Wednesday, dismantling Group D opponents Galatasaray 4-1.
Oct 1, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT
Lackluster Liverpool now level on points with Basel, face Real Madrid in next two matches.
Oct 1, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT
“He scores when he wants. He scores when he wants. Danny Welbeck, he scores when he wants.”
Oct 1, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT
A first-half brace from Danny Welbeck and a third from Alexis Sanchez handed Arsenal some breathing room against Galatasaray.
Oct 1, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT
Arsenal are flying, so too are Leverkusen. Check out all the half time scores, here.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
The Gunners opened the Champions League group stage in disappointing form, losing 2-0 to BVB.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT
Can the Reds make it two wins from two in the Champions League?
Oct 1, 2014, 1:56 PM EDT
Zenit, Monaco remain top of Group C after a dour draw in Saint Petersburg.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:38 PM EDT
Thierry Henry may be on his way out of New York City as turmoil at the top could drive him out.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT
The two sides had some internet fun after yesterday’s 1-1 Champions League draw.
Oct 1, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT
The former president of CONMEBOL told Uruguayan TV that Suarez could return earlier than expected.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT
That Wayne Rooney implosion? You’re gonna need Rog and Davo to break it down.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT
The US fringe player picked a terrible time to be injured, with the international break on the horizon.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:28 AM EDT
With Zelalem weaving through defenders on the Arsenal U-19 team, it’s hard not to get antsy about the 17-year-old possibly playing for the United States.
Oct 1, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT
With their Champions League match in Russia behind closed doors due to a UEFA sanction, fans found a way to watch anyways, and the team rewarded the dedicated supporters.
Oct 1, 2014, 8:25 AM EDT
Jose Mourinho has pestered the media with information about Costa’s troublesome hamstring all week, but the player himself isn’t listening.
Oct 1, 2014, 7:47 AM EDT
Alan Pardew must deal with yet another off the field issue at St. James Park as reports he’s losing the dressing room don’t look any less true at the moment.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:43 PM EDT
Are you as tired of Vincent Tan as Cardiff City supporters are?
Sep 30, 2014, 10:50 PM EDT
The German defender was courted by Manchester United and Real Madrid, but says he is at Dortmund for the long-run.
Sep 30, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
Wednesday features eight Champions League matches, including important matchups for Premier League sides Arsenal and Liverpool.
- FC Basel 1-0 Liverpool: Streller sinks Reds in Switzerland 0
- Hat-Trick Hero: Danny Welbeck nails three in thumping of Galatasaray 0
- Report: Red Bull’s days in MLS are likely numbered 7
- Men in Blazers podcast: Wayne Rooney’s implosion, Derby Day and an MiBNT update 0
- So much for bad hamstrings, Costa states he’s ready for Spain selection 0
- Mats Hummels says his future is at Dortmund 0