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Surgery With A Blunt Object: Stoke v. Liverpool Preview

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So what was already a fatigued side that sort of faded at Wigan now gets to the supersonic whirlpool that is a trip to The Britainnia.  Games with Stoke are like sex under the stage during a rock show.  You'll end up with bruises and scratches and even if you get what you came for you probably won't feel good after it.  Definitely sore.

Stoke come in after winning a "thriller" with Birmingham at home 3-2.  While there were goals aplenty, reports seem to indicate it was direct and physical as you'd might expect with those two sides.  Artful it probably wasn't, in favor of both teams running to each end in such a rush you would have thought they'd put up a "Free Beer" sign above each cross bar.  Before that Stoke hadn't won in a month, losing to Bolton, West Ham (somehow), United, Everton, and Sunderland.  There's a reason they're in 18th, not that we can chortle as we're not so removed from there.  But there's Kenwye Jones, and though he may have all the touch of a rapist he's a handful.  Thankfully, Kyrgiakos is back fit and this is exactly his type of game.  Ricardo Fuller is also around to score some annoying goals.  Remember, Ricardo Fuller is Jamaican for Jason Roberts.  There's Rory Delap's long-throws, Jermain Pennant lacing in crosses from the Liverpool left where the Home of Wayward Children (Paul Konchesky) will probably allow him to do so.  But looking at the other end, Stoke haven't kept a clean sheet this season.  Liverpool are going to have to go out of their way to not score.

But they may have already done so.  Fernando Torres to try three games in a week?  That's watching behind the couch stuff.  But now that he's back in form, can Roy afford to not try it?  It's doubtful that he'll give Martin Kelly three games in a row, so look for Carragher to shift out to right back which eliminates any chance of creating chances from an advancing fullback on that side.  I fear Christian Poulsen will get a run out, which is simply a waste of our time.  Dirk Kuyt is also not a certain start just returning from injury, and Raul Meireles had to be withdrawn due to illness.  More of Jonjo Shelvey?  Honestly, you may want to make sure you've had your breakfast fully digested before watching this, as if not it could be coming right back up.

-While it's nice that Pepe Reina came out and rubbished reports he wanted to leave, I never believe these things fully.  I never thought he'd leave in January, and like a host of other players it's going to depend on the finish and what happens in the transfer market after that.  Nothing is in stone any more.

-Kevin Keegan found a bullhorn today at Soccernet.   After seeing what his managerial career was, I'm not sure why anyone thinks Kevin Keegan knows much more than where the ball is supposed to go.  And saying that Liverpool needs to make a splash in January isn't exactly revelatory stuff.  But doing it is another matter.  I'm sure they'd love to.  But January signings are iffy.  No player on a Champions League team is going to show up, unless he's not playing.  And there's probably a reason he's not playing.  So a bench-riding player isn't going to raise anyone's pulse, usually.  There are exceptions.  Secondly, any player bought from a smaller club is either A) making a splash big enough that clubs in better places already have their eye on him and B) aren't going to make you sit up and take notice.  While I do expect signings in January, I won't be hurling stuff through the window if they don't arouse me like Rachel McAdams.  Just useful players will be fine, we'll save the the sexy stuff for June.