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Don't Forget to Wear Your Cups: Liverpool v Stoke Preview

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It's the start of the season and I'm Stoked about it.

Michael Regan

UK: Saturday, 1245 BST on BT Sport1

US: Saturday, 745am ET on NBC Sports

Here we go again after too long. This time Liverpool start the season with their bogey team, Stoke. Over the recent years they have struggled to keep up with Stokes physical (you say physical, I say reckless) style of play. Stoke have proven their love of reckless play by thankfully taking Charlie Adam off our hands a year ago. Yeah, this match pretty much always feels like a giant game of South Park style rochambeau.

Stoke appear to be a different team at least on the surface. Tony Pulis has been let go in search of new tracksuits and Mark Hughes has been brought it. However, they have lost some stalwarts: Michael Owen (puke), Dean Whithead, Rory Delap (the only non-keeper famous for using his hands) and Mathew Upson round out the notable departures. With all of that they haven't seemed to have been overly active in the transfer market, but they have found a love of American blood bringing in both Maurice Edu and Juan Agudelo. Couple them with Brek Shea and Geoff Cameron and you can see Mark Hughes still thinks he is at Fulham trying to build America's team.

As for Liverpool, well there has been a decent amount of change with rumors of more arrivals on the way. BR strengthened the squad considerably as FSG appeared ready to give him the resources he needs to make the push for the Wenger Cup (4th place). In addition Jordan Ibe has picked up right where he left off last year after his debut on the final day and Raheem Sterling looks refreshed and up for the fight. Joe Allen appears healed and Liverpool put a pounding on the opposition during preseason winning all but their last match with a goal difference of 17-2. However, preseason doesn't mean crap.

So here is what we'll be looking for:

-How will the new players cope with the physicality? Aspas and Alberto seem quite slight in their build. (Adam)

-How will the change in management affect Stoke's style of play? I don't expect too much difference as Mark Hughes is known to play the bully-ball himself. (JAceKopite)

-I'm totally with JAceKopite in looking at whether Stoke will be different stylistically. To take this further, I wonder if Liverpool may be in for a bit of a shock in the opening 15 minutes if Stoke are indeed playing a different brand of football. (loyal2reds)

-The last two opening games for Liverpool have been absolute turds. From Sebastian Larsson's equalizer two years ago to the embarrassment against West Brom last year, we are in dire need of a good beginning. (loyal2reds)

-Will Sturridge start? How long will he play? (loyal2reds)

-Will it be Allen or Henderson to round out the midfield? As I said on Matt's last post, I'd like to see Allen starting this game but more of Henderson in the future. (loyal2reds)