Kamis, 03 Februari 2011

Liverpool vs Stoke: Suarez era begins at Anfield


Liverpool vs Stoke City
Premier League
Anfield
Wednesday, 2nd February 2011; 8pm Kick-off

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He wanted to go. That’s the beginning and the end of matters. Torres has looked like he’s wanted to go all season and as fantastic a player as he undoubtedly is Liverpool didn’t win a single trophy during his time at the club, not to say that he is to blame but he didn’t win a single trophy during his seven seasons with Atletico Madrid so maybe El Nino is el jinxo. At least a club level. This may sound a little conciliatory, soothing the pain of losing such a top goalscoring talent but he had been far from an inspirational figure this season and in financial terms, Liverpool have swapped Torres and Babel for Suarez and Carroll with no additional outlay. Just how these changes will work out only the future will tell.
Unfortunately Carroll won’t be available for action for another couple of weeks so Luis Suarez goes straight in to the favourite spot in the goalscoring markets at 16/5 to score first against Stoke. Debut goals are far from a rarity and from what he showed in the World Cup he may not need much time to settle in to Premier League football. He’s a physically strong player who’s not afraid to battle for the cause and whether he makes an instant impact or not he looks a great addition to the squad.
Update: Suarez has been included in the Reds’ squad for the match tonight, confirmed.
One thing which is certain is that the owners have shown great faith in Kenny Dalglish and he does appear to have lifted spirits at the club following the departure of Hodgson. The win over Fulham had an element of fortune about it but not playing particularly well and still winning is an encouraging sign. No team ever achieves success without a little bit of luck along the way. The new manager also guided his side to their first away win in the league for nearly three months as well as recording back-to-back clean sheets for the first time since early November. It won’t be clear until the end of the season just how well he’s doing but at the moment the signs are positive. Despite the loss of Torres.
Stoke come in to this game looking to complete a double over the Reds but they should be facing a very different side from the one which surrendered to them at the Brittania Stadium. Suarez for Torres may be the only significant change in personnel but the style of football will certainly be more positive. Key to this will be the partnership between Gerrard and Meireles, if they line up in midfield together. The Portuguese midfielder has really started to improve since Dalglish’s arrival and though they looked a little disjointed at times against Fulham hopefully that game time together will prove valuable. With no Torres and Suarez likely making his debut, the onus will be on the rest of the team to offer a goal threat so as to ease the pressure on the new man. Gerrard is 5/1 to score first and Meireles is 9/1.
Stoke’s away record would also encourage a bet on Liverpool at 8/13, having lost seven of eleven on the road. Liverpool -1 goal at 15/8 offers a better return but only three of those seven defeats coming by more than one goal. And even those were all by exactly two goals. Stoke haven’t gotten rolled over by anyone and will come to Anfield looking to play a physical and defensive style of football. They caused a lot of problems in the first game with their balls in to the box and that is something Dalglish will need to have worked on if he wants a third straight clean sheet at evens. If he has then 2-0 at 6/1 or 3-0 at 11/1 should have you covered.
As far as transfers go, what’s done is done and all that’s left is to get on with trying to push the club as far up the table as possible between now and the end of the season. Stoke are unlikely to be easy opponents but if the defence holds firm and Suarez offers a threat up front then the Reds could ease any doubts over the recent business dealings with a good win and another three points.
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