Liverpool-Stoke City Preview: Hughes plots another away scalp

The Potters have already beaten Manchester City and Tottenham on the road this season and now face the task of extending the Reds’ run of games without a win to six

Liverpool’s winless run has now reached five games and Stoke City manager Mark Hughes backs his side to extend that in Saturday’s Premier League clash at Anfield.

The Reds were held to a 2-2 Champions League draw at Ludogorets on Wednesday as their unimpressive season continued in Bulgaria.

Brendan Rodgers’s men would still qualify for the last 16 if they wintheir final group match but hopes of matching last season’s second-placed finish in the league are fading fast.

Sunday’s 3-1 defeat by Crystal Palace made it three top-flight losses in a row, leaving Liverpool languishing in 12th ahead of the visit of Stoke, who have already beaten Manchester City and Tottenham on the road this term.

“We are looking forward to the big games now. If you look at our form away from them you will see we’ve gone on our travels and played well,” Hughes told reporters.

“Confidence-wise, we are in decent shape with the win at Tottenham, which was comfortable in my opinion. We can go to Anfield and give another good account of ourselves, I am sure of that.

“We have made fundamental errors this season, though, and every time we do it seems like we are punished for them – certainly in the home games and against the teams that we are expected to beat.

“They sit in there with bodies behind the ball and that is always difficult to overcome. We’ve conceded at the key times in games. Scoring first is important in the Premier League and, in too many matches, we haven’t done so.

“I think that we approached the Man City and Tottenham games in a positive manner but we had a gameplan. We’ve been organised and difficult to break down but have had a threat on the break. We’ve had success with that on our travels. Maybe it has been a little bit easier in some ways away from home.”

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge remains on the sidelines due to a thigh injury, while Rodgers will assess the fitness of Mario Balotelli (groin), Jose Enrique (knee), Mamadou Sakho (thigh) and Suso (groin).

Hughes is hopeful that Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron and Phil Bardsley will recover from a virus that has affected the club in the build-up.

Oussama Assaidi is unable to face his parent club due to the terms of his loan move but Marc Wilson (hamstring) and Erik Pieters (calf) could return after missing their loss to Burnley due to injury.

On-loan winger Victor Moses, who spent last season at Liverpool, will play no part after being ruled out for up to eight weeks with a thigh injury and has returned to parent club Chelsea for treatment.

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