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Liverpool host Stoke City on Saturday

Liverpool welcome Stoke City on Saturday with the hopes of revenging a 1-0 league defeat at the Britannia on a Jonathan Walters penalty in September.

Walters was brought down by Jamie Carragher in the 20th minute and subsequently buried the spot kick in the 21st the last time the sides met in the league. The Reds made up for it in the Carling Cup with a 2-1 win at Stoke in October with two goals from Luis Suarez, one of which  was a brilliant curling effort to equalize.

The last time these two sides met at Anfield, Liverpool eased to a 2-0 victory which doubled as Suarez’s club debut and first goal in a 15 minute cameo appearance. Raul Meireles gave the Reds the lead in the 47th minute.

Stoke City won’t have to contend with either player this time. Suarez is still serving his suspension for the Patrice Evra race row, and Meireles was sold to Chelsea on Aug. 31, 2011.

A fully fit Steven Gerrard will be available for selection for boss Kenny Dalglish, having played 90 minutes, scoring from the spot, and captaining the side to a 1-0 victory Wednesday over Manchester City in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final.

Gerrard, whom Dalglish said “wouldn’t be far away from being mentioned as the greatest player for Liverpool Football Club,” signed a contract extension on Thursday keeping him at the club through the remainer of his playing career.

Liverpool will likely be without CM Jay Spearing, who injured his hamstring against City on Wednesday. Of the injury, Dalglish said in his post-match press conference, “I don’t think he has pulled anything, but we’ll have to wait until the morning when he gets back (to club training ground Melwood).” Dalglish later said on Thursday that Spearing was “touch and go” for the Stoke clash.

Stoke have some injuries of their own to contend with, including Jonathan Woodgate and Ryan Shotton, however both are expected to be fit for the matchup. Whether they start or not will be dependent on manager Tony Pulis’ plans.

One player who will be returning to Anfield is Peter Crouch. The lanky England international played three seasons on Merseyside, scoring 42 goals in 134 appearances in all competitions. Playing in his first season with the Potters, Crouch has scored eight in 19 appearances in all competitions.

Stoke come into this match having only lost once in the last 8 league fixtures – a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City before Christmas – but have only won four times this season away from the Britannia in league play. Meanwhile, Liverpool are undefeated in their last six matches at Anfield.

With Liverpool’s current form, especially being buoyed by a victory at the Etihad on Wednesday, they should be able to keep possession and grab a relatively comfortable (by Stoke standards) victory, even without Suarez. Expect both a physical and mobile side from the Reds to combat Stoke’s physicality. Andy Carroll will probably get the start. Will the big man grab or goal?

Prediction:  Liverpool 2-0 Stoke City

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