Stoke City v Liverpool Capital One Cup
Liverpool's expensively assembled but badly misfiring team travels to Stoke on Tuesday where Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that his “choice words” will have a galvanising effect.
The Reds were as poor against West Ham on Saturday as they were against Watford in their previous away defeat and Klopp must surely be thinking of not only ringing the changes for this game to keep the players fresh but also permanently in a bid to instil some steel into the team.
Some of Liverpool's “Team Play” on Saturday was woeful. Coutinho continues to fire shot after shot high and wide instead of looking for a player to pass to and Firminho is performing nowhere near the player he threatens to be. Klopp must be left wondering what on earth needs to happen for these two to play anywhere near their best.
Lucas' lack of pace was badly exposed in a two man midfield and although Clyne has been an excellent performer this season his lack of height is posing a problem in defence when other players are not present to help him out.
It really is anyone's guess what team Liverpool will field against Stoke. We know that Sturridge has missed a training session (although curiously we don't know why) and so he will miss this game even though he declared himself “good to go” on Twitter recently.
Perhaps Klopp has started to wield the iron rod instead of dangling carrots, a character change that we all know he has within him. The disarmingly charming German will not put up with 95% effort and he said as much in the pre Stoke press conference.
Liverpool have scored the lowest amount of goals in the 2015/2016 than any other season in top flight history and that is the problem right there.
Lovren and Sakho are a good defensive partnership but Lucas and Can need to do more to help protect Clyne and Moreno. The perfect example being the first goal West Ham scored on Saturday.
I'm going for a Stoke win.
Mark Hughes has transformed Stoke from a side that I wouldn't watch if you paid me to something resembling an entertaining football team. The fact that they can score goals and Liverpool contrive to spurn even their best one on one opportunities also sways my judgement.
It may be different come the return at Anfield but this is a game that Stoke can win easily.