Premier League preview: Liverpool vs. Stoke City

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  • Liverpool (3rd) 9 points back of leaders Chelsea
  • Reds top scores in the PL
  • Stoke (12th) would go 9th with a win

The Premier League title race — if it’s not been won by Chelsea already — feels like it’s been whittled down to a three-horse race, with Manchester City and Liverpool quickly losing sight of the runaway leaders. Simply put, when Stoke City visit on Tuesday (Watch live, 12:15 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), is a must-win for Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds. Making the issue all the more pressing, Liverpool have never lost a home, top-division game to Stoke in the two clubs’ histories (53 all-time top-division meetings at Anfield). However, Stoke were the last away side to win at Anfield (all competitions), winning 1-0 in the League Cup semifinal second leg, though Liverpool advanced to the final on penalties.

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Man City’s trip to Anfield, which comes on Saturday, will almost certainly cut the chasing pack down to one. The Reds’ dramatic, late triumph over Everton in Monday’s Merseyside derby gave Klopp’s side back-to-back wins for the first time since Oct. 29 and Nov. 11. All the while, Chelsea haven’t dropped a single point, moving to a dozen victories in a row seven days later, on Boxing Day.

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Joel Matip (ankle) will be unavailable once again, as will Philippe Coutinho (ankle) and Danny Ings (knee surgery) for Liverpool, while Stoke will be without Marko Arnautovic (suspension), Geoff Cameron (knee), Jack Butland (ankle) and Phil Bardsley (knee).

What they’re saying

Klopp, on the busy holiday schedule: “It is a run that could do that [end a title challenge] but I am the type of guy who thinks you can make it work the other way around. It is all the same for all the teams, or nearly all the teams. We all have to go through it and in the end the teams who use all the different situations in the best way will be top of the table.”

Mark Hughes, on Joe Allen‘s return to Anfield: “I think Joe will want to do well when he goes back there, that is natural. He has nothing to prove there though in fairness, because I know that he was appreciated there by supporters and players alike.”

Prediction

Perhaps more so than any other side in the PL, once Liverpool get rolling, they’re just about impossible to slow down. They should thrive during the upcoming congested series of fixtures, solidifying their place as Chelsea’s most legitimate title competition.