The Reds take on Stoke City at Britannia Stadium with kick off time at 5:30 pm GMT. They are presently on a great run, as their last loss was to Tottenham last November, have chalked up five wins and four draws and are motivated to continue their unbeaten streak.
The Reds have to win this game, after some people believed was a lackluster showing during their home game at Anfield. A first half strike by captain Steven Gerrard was disallowed for offside earning protests from the fans and the Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez and his coaching staff. It could have given Liverpool the win and increase their lead. Instead the disallowed goal gave Stoke the necessary inspiration to play aggressively in defense the rest of the game. Thomas Sorensen thwarted Robbie Keane’s strike in the second half while Andy Griffin made a late goal-line clearance as they held the leaders on to a 0-0 score. This time, Liverpool are hoping to achieve a better football result.
Club manager Rafael Benitez will have an almost complete squad of players to choose from for this match as previously injured players Martin Skrtel, Fabio Aurelio and Fernando Torres have recuperated and returned to the side. Javier Mascherano has an ankle knock but is expected to recover while Alvaro Arbeloa has been given additional time to heal his hamstring problem. Midfielder Xabi Alonso, who picked up an injury which required seven stitches in his foot during the team’s FA Cup victory over Preston , is hurt with the severity of his injury still unknown until now. Benitez is hoping that the midfielder’s condition improves at the end of the week before making the decision to see if Alonso is fit to be included in the match against the Potteries. Young Argentinean left back Emiliano Insua shall not be joining the team as he has departed for international duty to join the Under-20 South American Championships in Venezuela and represent his country. Insua has started at the left back position for four games straight. He shall be gone until February 8.
Gerrard, in the meantime, has to prove himself once more. He produced a remarkable performance during the game against Preston which saw him end the match with an assist to Torres for the goal that insured Liverpool’s advance into the fourth round, a performance that earned him praises from his manager and the fans. He was under scrutiny of the press and the English football fans after news about his alleged involvement and subsequently being charged with assault and affray was reported by the media.
Benitez initially wanted to rest him during the match against Preston but immediately decided against it once the news broke out. Supporters of the club want to see how the England midfielder shall play at the time when his personal life suffered a blow. And they hope that his good run of form shall continue as the club strives for premiership supremacy.