Liverpool have been honoured with the opening match of the 2013/14 Premier League season. Unfortunately for them, they will be facing a very physical Stoke City side.
The Reds are known to struggle against physical opposition, as was the case in their recent friendly against Celtic.
The most embarrassing part of the 1-0 loss was that it was against a Celtic "B" squad, when Liverpool fielded a strong starting line-up.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon was given the chance to see how his younger players would be able to perform in a high intensity game.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers left the game still needing to find out what to do when facing a physical forward.
It's been no secret that the Reds struggle with a powerful forward, and the Potters will be relishing the opportunity to unleash strikers Cameron Jerome, Peter Crouch, or Kenwyne Jones on their opponents' back line.
Against Celtic, Liverpool struggled defending against the striking duo of Amido Balde and Anthony Stokes. Balde, in particular was bossing around Kolo Toure and Andre Wisdom, exposing Wisdom's inexperience. Balde's goal highlights Liverpool's defensive weaknesses.
Should this continue to be the case, Liverpool will not be making a top four challenge. They will have to be facing strikers of the same mould as Balde in the Premier League such as Demba Ba, Christian Benteke, Roberto Soldado, and Alvaro Negredo.
These are strikers that are not only physical, but have deadly finishing, something Balde could not claim based on the goal scored against Liverpool.
Either the 5ft 10in Toure or the 6ft 3in Daniel Agger will have to step up to the challenge of not being bossed around by opposing strikers. Agger's promotion to vice captain entails not only will he have to be more vocal on the pitch, but he must prove to be a solid rock in the heart of the Liverpool defence.
The Reds lack of depth is sure to be a concern on Rodgers' mind. Wisdom has already shown the inexperience and the inability to boss a physical striker. The 6ft 5in Sebastian Coates has been inconsistent at best.
Rodgers will surely want to address his defensive issues, and will be hoping to add a physical defender to his Anfield ranks. Should he fail to do this, his defence will have a long Premier League season ahead of them.
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