A New World Order: Liverpool v. Stoke Preview and Thread

Well, whatever it's going to be, it starts today. I said that when Dalglish was hired, and it feels appropriate now too. The new look Reds, though really they'll only be without a player we're actually quite accustomed to them being without. The big news is Luis Suarez has been registered and cleared and can make his debut. However, I doubt he's in the first 11 as he hasn't played two months, small matter of being suspended for biting a player, as you do. But then again, he's fresh, right? Andy Carroll will have to wait, he still has a thigh strain and it could be weeks before we see him.

So who gets the first call up top? The easy choice is David Ngog, but I think I'd rather see Kuyt return to his former role. Yes, his touch is akin to that of a rapist at the moment, and he has no pace to open up space for others. But he can finish if presented the chance, and he'll work hard, two things we can't always count on from Ngog. Also, Kuyt's hold-up play is simply better than Ngog's at the moment. Dalglish hasn't yet appeared to be very big on the Frenchman, so the guess here is the Albino goes up top.

What other changes could that mean? Perhaps Pool trot out the 4-3-3 formation we assume is coming, with Maxi and someone to be named later flanking Kuyt, possibly Suarez.  Meireles, Lucas, and Gerrard will form an axis of destruction behind that.  Jamie Carragher could return today too, and he'd partner Daniel Agger. I'd love to see Fabio Aurelio return to the left back spot, but considering the threat of Stoke maybe Dalglish just goes with all the tallest defenders he has.

As for Stoke, they could be fielding an entire second string defense with Ryan Showcross suspended, Danny Higginbotham injured, as well as Andy Wilkinson. Over the window, Stoke sold two of their players who could actually, y'know, play football in Eidur Gudjohnsson and Tuncay and brought in another battering ram in John Carew. Combined with Kenwye Jones and Ricardo Fuller (who I still think sucks despite scoring against us last time), couth would not be a word associated with Stoke's tactics. Get fouled, get a throw, and dump it into the mixer is the detailed, intricate plan Tony Pulis has weaved. That said, they're only two points behind us with a game in hand, so a win today is vital to create separation from another member of the midtable blob. This will be Stoke's fourth straight away date including the Cup, and they've won two of the previous three, last out beating Wolves 1-0.

It won't be pretty, or probably any fun. A performance like we saw against Fulham would get us beat. One we saw against Wolves would get us a win. It's obvious which is preferred.

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