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Sep 12 2017

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Stoke v Liverpool preview: Philippe Coutinho a doubt for visitors

Philippe Coutinho is a doubt for Liverpool’s trip to Stoke

Liverpool could be without Philippe Coutinho for their Premier League trip to Stoke on Saturday.

The Brazil midfielder was taken off in the second half of the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth on Wednesday due to illness.

Manager Jurgen Klopp said on Friday: “Phil is still ill and was not at Melwood [training ground] yesterday and he will not be here today. He feels much better, but it doesn’t look too good.

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“Stoke is not too far away so we will give him all the time he needs, but it will be really close.”

After Coutinho’s withdrawal against Bournemouth, Liverpool conceded a late equaliser that dented their top-four ambitions.

The result left them third in the table, six points ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United but having played two games more than both sides. Klopp’s side are winless in their last five away league games.

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Stoke, meanwhile, have lost three league matches in a row after defeats at Leicester and Burnley in the last week.

“It’s important we finish well,” said manager Mark Hughes. “Our focus is always on the next game. It’s helped us in previous seasons and we aren’t going to change that.

“After Liverpool we feel as though we have a good opportunity to finish the season well.”

Team news

Xherdan Shaqiri could return after a two-month injury lay-off and Stoke are hopeful that Jon Walters will be available after missing the defeat to Burnley with concussion.

Marc Muniesa and Mame Biram Diouf both picked up knocks at Burnley but could be in contention.

Highlights: Liverpool 2-2 Bournemouth

The Reds have kept just six clean sheets in Jurgen Klopp’s 30 Premier League away games so far; the same total they’d recorded in Brendan Rodgers’ last 12 away matches with the club.

Stoke have lost just once in their last nine Premier League games on home soil (W4 D4), although it came last time out versus Chelsea on March 18.

Liverpool have won just half of their 16 Premier League games against sides currently in the bottom 10 positions in the table (W8 D3 L5) this season.

The Reds have already scored more Premier League goals in 2016-17 (66) than they did last season (63) and in 2014-15 (52). The 2013-14 campaign saw them hit their record 101 goals in a Premier League season.

Liverpool games have seen a league-high 105 goals scored in them this season in the Premier League.

Merson’s prediction

Liverpool are a weird team. When they come up against a big side you know what they’ll bring. They’ll come and fly at you and have a right go. Then, against the lesser teams, they just struggle.

They just can’t afford any more of these draws if they want to get the top four, but Stoke were unlucky to lose in midweek at Burnley and I think they’ll get a draw here.

Betting

Jurgen Klopp’s men were cut to 5/2 to miss out on a top-four finish after failing to beat Bournemouth, while their title chances have long been dismissed at 500/1.

Roberto Firmino heads the first goalscorer betting at 4/1 closely followed by Divock Origi (9/2), while the market is wide open on the hosts’ side, with Peter Crouch, Marko Arnautovic and Saido Berahino all 8/1 chances.

Stoke v Liverpool is included in this weekend’s Super 6 line-up, with 250,000 up for grabs for simply predicting the six correct scores. Enter your selections here.



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