Defender axed: Three things to expect from Liverpool v Stoke
COMMENT By Dominic Toner
Liverpool travel to Stoke on Saturday for a Premier League clash and will be hoping to consolidate their top-four position.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are currently third in the league table and are desperate to secure a Champions League spot this season.
They will be looking to respond from a 2-2 draw against Bournemouth in their last game, when Josh King scored a late equaliser at Anfield.
Here, Football Insider looks at three things to expect from the upcoming league clash against Stoke.
Klopp is set to drop defender Ragnar Klavan from the starting line-up against Stoke and bring in preferred centre-back Dejan Lovren. Klavan has been an important member of the Reds squad during his first season and has been the back-up option in defence. The 31-year-old has completed 90 minutes in four of the last five league games, but is set to be replaced by teammate Matip. The Merseyside club face a must-win game against Stoke in their bid for a top-four position and Klopp will name his best available XI, which has not included Klavan this season.
Liverpool to record clean sheet
Liverpool have conceded in their last six game consecutive games and have had problems in defence all season. However, the upcoming Stoke clash could be the perfect opportunity to end that run. Matip’s return to the side in place of Klavan should improve the side, while they face a Stoke side that have struggled in front of goal this season. Mark Hughes’ side have scored just 33 league goals in 31 matches so far and don’t have a recognised goal scorer. They have also scored just once in their last four games and look a team low on confidence right now.
Coutinho to star
Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho appears to be edging back towards his best form and that will send the alarm bells ringing for Stoke. The Brazilian playmaker is superb on his day and has rediscovered his touch recently. He has scored two goals and supplied one assists during his last two matches, terrorising both Everton and Bournemouth defences in the process. Coutinho has just nine goals so far this season and will know a player of his quality can do more. He should be able to get at a vulnerable Stoke defence and it would be no surprise to see his name on the scoresheet.
In other Liverpool news, they are closing in on a big-money May deal.