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Liverpool predicted XI to face Stoke City

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Liverpool host Stoke City on Saturday afternoon and will be desperate to pick up their first win in six games.

You have to go back to October 28 for when the Reds last won a game, defeating Swansea City 2-1 in the Capital One Cup and are win-less in the Premier League since beating QPR 3-2 at Loftus Road on October 19.

Just one point separates the two sides who occupy 11th and 12th in the top flight, with the Potters currently sitting on 15 points and Brendan Rodgers' men one behind.

Defeat for the Merseyside club would bring further pressure to the Northern Irishman's job and three points against Mark Hughes' side is the bare minimum needed if Liverpool want Champions League qualification once again.

Goalkeeper - Simon Mignolet

The Belgian made yet another mistake in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Ludogorets Razgrad in the European Cup, spilling Marcelinho's shot that gave Dani Abalo an easy tap-in.

Mignolet's number-one status in the Reds' goal is under some pressure, however, Rodgers has stated he is ready to keep faith with the former Sunderland man.

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He is after all, an excellent shot-stopper and kept his side in many-a games since arriving at Anfield in 2013. 

However, his confidence is low and is poor in decision-making and was almost punished against the Bulgarian champions when failing to collect a cross.

Right-back - Glen Johnson

It's likely that Rodgers will want to discover the style of play that took Liverpool within grasp of the title last campaign, and Johnson can provide this.

His attacking abilities are some of the best in the Premier League, as he has the desire to test defenders when going forward and produce threatening crosses.

Centre-back - Kolo Toure

Toure was given his first start on Wednesday since he put in a heroic performance against Real Madrid several weeks ago.

He started slowly against Ludogorets and his dreadful clearance lead to the home side's first goal.

However, he settled down after that error and looked composed in the Liverpool defence.The Ivorian used his experience to the maximum, positioned himself well and made several good challenges and blocks, giving leading claims to keep his place in the Reds' starting XI. 

Centre-back - Martin Skrtel

For the most part this term, Skrtel has played alongside Dejan Lovren - and hated every moment.

The £20 million summer signing has failed to settle at Anfield and created a poor partnership with the Slovakian, with many errors coming for the confusion between the two.

When Skrtel plays with Toure, he looks much more relaxed and his decision making seems a lot better. 

The former Zenit St. Petersburg man is not a natural leader and needs somebody to command him in the defence - Toure does just that and it seems to work a lot better.

The one query on Skrtel is how he will handle Peter Crouch. 

The 29-year-old is prone to shirt dragging, as displayed when he fouled Dwight Gayle against Crystal Palace last weekend, leading to Liverpool conceding a third. 

Crouch's height will be a problem for Skrtel and you have to question whether he will commit another dangerous foul.

Left-back - Alberto Moreno

The Spaniard has surprisingly not started in Liverpool's two latest fixtures, but should come back into the side against the Potters.

Moreno has admitted his defending must improve, and displayed his inexperience when being too easily beat at the near post against Ludogorets, which lead to the Bulgarian outfit clinching a point.

Although he has made mistakes, he should learn a great deal from them.

His attacking abilities are not to be questioned, as he always offers his support down the left-hand side and poses plenty of problems for the opposition's defence. 

He's blessed with wicked pace and power and could easily grab an assist on Saturday.

Defensive-midfield - Emre Can

Can put in two superb performances against Real Madrid and Chelsea a few weeks ago and it's a surprise that he's been left out of the side for Liverpool's latest fixtures.

From what he's displayed, the German has the potential to become a special player at Anfield.

Only 20-years-old, he shows no fear when playing against the best and commits himself 100% to the tackle and the attack.

Liverpool's defence will need cover given their poor form this season and Can can certainly offer this.

Centre-midfield - Jordan Henderson

Henderson's energy in the middle of the park is something Liverpool rely on.

The ex-Sunderland man never stops from the first to the final whistle, working hard when on and off the ball.

His goal against Ludogorets was a smart finish, given the angle he had to shoot from, and his desire to get into the position was even more impressive. 

Centre-midfield - Steven Gerrard

The Liverpool captain played a further role forward on Wednesday, and was much more effective.

Too often this season when playing just in-front of the defence, Gerrard has offered little to the game and become isolated in a role he does not suit.

Against Ludogorets, however, the 34-year-old was much smarter the way he went about his game. 

The Whiston-native has some of the best passing in world football, but playing in a deeper role did not allow for this. 

Playing in an advanced role, Gerrard's distribution with the ball was much better and should continue to do so against Stoke.

Left-wing - Adam Lallana

The England international put in a bright performance against Palace last weekend and should be suited to carrying on his good form.

His ball to find Rickie Lambert was exquisite, and completed 100% of his passes in the first-half at Selhurst Park.

The former Southampton man's performance was good in general, as he attempted to unlock the Eagles back-four on multiple occasions. His ability with the ball at his feet excited Liverpool fans and he is a menace duty to his quick feet and good vision.

Right-wing - Raheem Sterling

The youngster went through a small blip in form, however, seemed back to his best against Ludogorets.

His ball to find Jordan Henderson for Liverpool's second goal was quite sensational, given the pressure he was under and it was on his unfavoured left-boot.

In the second-half, Sterling was a menace and caused so many problems and should have bagged himself a goal when put through by Gerrard.

If the 19-year-old continues that form, there's no doubt he will be a handful for the Stoke defence, drifting all over the Liverpool forward line and away from his marker.

Striker - Rickie Lambert

This time last week, Lambert was still awaiting his first Liverpool goal.

Now, he sits on two and will be full of confidence, itching to notch more under his belt.

The £4.5 million summer signing was impressive against Crystal Palace, when he cleverly lost his marker and expertly brought down Lallana's through-ball and bagged his first goal for his boyhood club.

His header against Ludogorets showed the 32-year-old's desire and willingness never to give up, and sacrificed the Bulgarian's defensive hesitancy to notch his first Champions League goal.

Lambert's work-rate is a lot better than Mario Balotelli's, who has been heavily criticised for not aiding his side when not on the ball this season.

The former Southampton man too has very under-rated passing and vision, displayed when he found Sterling in build-up to Liverpool's second on Wednesday.

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Topics:
Liverpool
Stoke City
Premier League
Football

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