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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Patience may be needed for Klopp's men to land vital victory

Stoke can keep it tight early on Anfield

Liverpool forwards Sadio Mane (left) and Roberto Firmino
1 of 1

Premier League
Sky Sports 1, 5.15pm Tuesday

Mark Hughes has never won a Premier League game at Anfield in ten attempts as a manager and while that looks unlikely to change when his Stoke side head to Liverpool they can at least make life awkward for the hosts.

Stoke are the last side to have won at Anfield - in the League Cup semi-final second leg back in January - although rather than going for another upset it may pay to back the visitors to keep the match tight early on.

Paddy Power's time of first goal line has been set at over/under 22 minutes and even during this average campaign the Potters have shown resilience in matches against elite opponents.

They have played four matches against top-six sides and on every occasion the first goal arrived after 22 minutes.

Manchester City needed 27 minutes to break the deadlock via a penalty at the bet365 Stadium and Tottenham required 41 minutes at the same venue.

Anthony Martial's goal on 69 minutes opened the scoring for Manchester United at Old Trafford, while Arsenal equalised on 42 minutes at the Emirates following Charlie Adam's 29th-minute penalty for City in a 3-1 defeat.

Hughes will have been furious at the way Stoke chucked away two points after conceding a couple of late goals to ten-man Leicester but generally speaking the Potters are much better defensively than earlier in the campaign.

Maybe tiredness played a part against Leicester as they had been forced to play more than an hour with ten men in a 0-0 draw with Southampton only three days earlier which was one of three clean sheets in Stoke's last five outings.

Heading to Anfield is a different matter entirely, although the days of Liverpool smashing teams early on have disappeared and opposition sides now try to frustrate the silky Merseysiders.

Sadio Mane broke Everton hearts at Goodison Park in injury time last time out and five of Liverpool's last six Anfield goals have arrived in the second half.

Philippe Coutinho's magic is being missed and Roberto Firmino's impact seems to have quietened since his fellow Brazilian was injured. 

Firmino has not scored since the 6-1 win over Watford in early November and on that occasion it still took Mane 27 minutes to break the deadlock.

Divock Origi needed 75 minutes before the opener against Sunderland and it was the same man who got Liverpool in front against Leeds on 76 minutes.

West Ham folded five minutes into their trip to Anfield but still recovered to grab a point and Jurgen Klopp's men don't make much appeal at short odds.

However, Liverpool have managed five clean sheets in their last seven games and a narrow home success looks the most likely outcome.

Recommendation
First goal after 22 minutes
1pt 10-11 Paddy Power


Team news
Liverpool
Philippe Coutinho remains sidelined and Joel Matip is unlikely to figure. Danny Ings is a long-term Liverpool absentee.

Stoke
Phil Bardsley, Geoff Cameron, Jack Butland and Stephen Ireland are injured and Marko Arnautovic is suspended. Marc Muniesa is doubtful but Ibrahim Afellay may make the squad.   

Key stat
Stoke have scored in eight of their nine away matches this season

Listen to our preview of this game

Four times Stoke have played top-six sides and on every occasion the first goal arrived after 22 minutes
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