This Saturday, Liverpool will be paying a visit to one of the most intimidating grounds in the league, the home of Stoke City, the Britannia Stadium. I used to despise Stoke solely because of their boring, park-the-bus, one-dimensional incessant aerial bombardment of their opponents, especially my beloved Liverpool. But, over the years, I've grown to respect the club, its fans and its manager, Tony Pullis for what they've achieved over the years. After all, they only play route one hoofball because they have to, against the (ironically-labeled) bigger teams. I'm sure they do play good football whenever they can.
That however, doesn't change the fact that a visit to the Britannia normally equals an agonising amount of frustration. And, it doesn't get any more frustrating than a mere two points extracted from visits to Stoke-on-Trent in the past three seasons. A mere two points.
Added to that, we've lost the Anti-Stoke himself to Wolfsburg during the summer while Stoke have strengthen their midfield with added drive from Honduran Wilson Palacios and even more aerial prowess via Liverpool old boy, Peter Crouch among others.Yes, Crouch has been criticised for not taking full advantage of his height but at 6 ft 7 in, Jay Spearing will still need to jump another three feet to stand a chance of getting to a static Crouch's forehead.
Fortunately, Liverpool these days have a far different side and there's no question that it's a more physical squad. Also, interestingly Daniel Agger has never had the chance to feature in this fixture since joining Liverpool so if selected on the day, he definitely would offer a different option to the Liverpool back four. If that doesn't work, there's always Sebastian Coates who might feature at some stage if Rory Delap's throw-ins get increasingly threatening. He certainly looks like he can at the very least, do a Kyrgiakos with ease.
If the win at Arsenal shows that this season's Liverpool can mix with the big boys then, taking three points at the Britannia will send a message to Premiership that this Liverpool side are potentially real contenders and won't make the mistake of stumbling so easily when faced with lesser clubs as the club has often done in the past.
In the meantime, I'll be reading and analysing a Liverpool legend's new personal website. Should definitely be a good and very enlightening read.