Liverpool, before the start of the season, were aiming for top four finish, which they might not achieve this season. But there are plenty of positives since Jurgen Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers and took over as Liverpool's manager. Liverpool presently lie on ninth place, and can jump one spot to eighth place if they manage to defeat Stoke City at Anfield, Sunday.
There seem to be an air of positivity around Anfield as Liverpool are producing satisfactory results against strong teams. Liverpool have drawn their last two competitive fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur (EPL) and Borussia Dortmund (Europa League), which must have given them confidence to defeat Stoke at home.
Stoke, on the other hand, have also been impressive this season. They are two points ahead of Liverpool in the EPL standings. In their last seven EPL matches, they have only lost one game, against Southampton, which suggest their brilliant performances in the league of late.
With both teams looking confident ahead of the clash, a cracker of a contest might be witnessed Sunday. Reds' manager Klopp is aware of Stoke City's progression and believes their opponents are a strong team.
"I think everybody [has] seen the season of Stoke - it's a really good one. They are strong and two points ahead [of us], so with three points here we can get them. It would be pretty important for us." LFC official website quoted Klopp as saying.
Though Klopp will want to win, it would be interesting to note if Liverpool provide rest to key players against Stoke. Liverpool take on Borussia Dortmund in a crucial EL fixture during the week, but Klopp will want to play his strongest eleven against Stoke. It remains to be seen if Klopp starts with Daniel Sturridge or Divock Origi, who found a place in Liverpool's starting eleven against Dortmund, and he scored the only goal for Liverpool as well.
"We have no time for resting, that's the situation. Of course, we have to think about a few changes, that's how it is. We have a few opportunities to change. It's not about resting one or the other player, it's about having best line-up for Stoke," Klopp said.
Liverpool should start the game as favourites and Klopp will need players like Philippe Coutinho to shine, and help his team take three crucial points.
Stoke, on the other hand, will make life difficult for the home side. They are a physical side, and will be tough to beat as has been witnessed by teams like Chelsea. Stoke are a quality side, with offencive players like Ibrahim Afellay, Bojan Krikic and Xherdan Shaqiri amongst others. But they are set to miss their striker Jonathan Walters, who has troubled Liverpool in the past. Walters is out with a knee injury.
Their influential skipper, Ryan Showcross, who was involved in training after coming back from injury, could led his side Sunday. If the defender plays, he is going to strengthen Stoke's back four, and boost his team's confidence further more.
Liverpool are looking for the EPL double over Stoke this season, after having defeated Mark Hughes' team earlier in the season while it is revenge time for Stoke.
Where to watch live
Liverpool vs Stoke City EPL clash is scheduled for 3 p.m. GMT (8:30 p.m. IST, 11a.m. ET) start. Indian TV viewers can watch the mega clash on Star Sports 1/HDwith live streaming option and Starsports.com.
Unfortunately, there is no live TV coverage for UK viewers.
Viewers in the US can watch Liverpool vs Stoke City EPL clash on NBC,while the game can also be live streamed on NBC Live Extra.
Football fans in the African countries can watch the game live on Supersport 7 Africa.