Liverpool to Stoke up a Christmas Turkey
Stoke v Liverpool - 19:45 - live on Sky Sports 1
With the antics of Marouane Fellaini in Stoke's last home game it probably should've been Everton visiting the Britannia on Boxing Day but its Everton's cross city neighbours Liverpool who are make the trip to the Potteries from Merseyside. The Potters come into this off three consecutive draws while Liverpool have won three of four after bouncing back from the disappointing home defeat to Villa by thumping Fulham 4-0.
Stoke (23/10) are living up to their standards of being one of the dullest teams in Premier League history as the top flights draw specialists keep grinding out results in low scoring games, just three of their Premier League games have gone over 2.5 goals (6/5) and their eight home games have seen a combined eleven goals. They are however unbeaten at home and they'll fancy their chance of picking up more points at home, but it seems unlikely they'll manage the full three.
Stoke to be fair to them have sneaked in to the top half of the league after going on an eight match unbeaten run but that has been down to a rock solid defence that is hard to break down, conceding just three in eight and keeping five clean sheets (Stoke clean sheet is 21/10). There has been little application with the strikers though and the Potters have mustered just 2 goals in the entire of December, 1 goal apiece for Kenwyn Jones (13/2 First/Last, 15/8 Anytime) and Dean Whitehead (20/1 First/Last, 7/1 Anytime), without Rory Delap's ability to throw the ball they look stuck searching for a plan B to attack with. With a lack of coherent attacking play the best bet would be to back a player good in the air and wait for a set piece or two, those that could appeal would be Jon Walters (15/2 First/Last, 9/4 Anytime) or Robert Huth (14/1 First/Last, 11/2 Anytime).
Liverpool (5/4, Draw 11/5) have found some Christmas cheer with three wins from four in December, the one loss being a shock 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa. Liverpool showed they can respond though as they thumped Fulham 4-0 with four different players scoring, including a first Premier League goal for Liverpool for Stewart Downing. Liverpool sit just above Stoke on goal difference but Brendan Rodgers will know how difficult it is to come to the Britannia as his Swansea side lost 2-0 here last season, a result which began Stoke's 15 match unbeaten run at home.
Stuart Downing (14/1 First/Last, 11/2 Anytime) turned in a long overdue performance against Fulham, he's apparently been told he can leave but he showed a willingness to knuckle down and a few more performances of that calibre may see his future at Anfield after all. Liverpool have been short of striking options all season but with Daniel Sturridge looking a confirmed signing in January Luis Suarez (4/1 First/Last, Evs Anytime) may finally have some help. The Uruguayan was on the score sheet against Fulham and he has the X-Factor capable of unlocking the Stoke defence.
This game has a draw written all of it and so 1-1 (11/2) or maybe more likely 0-0 (15/2) look like the scorelines to be on as goals will be at a premium, nine meeting between these sides in the Premier League have yielded just 11 goals. If you can't choose between the two then we have a "match x goals" market where a draw and under 2.5 goals is 11/4 and covers both score lines. The under 2.5 goals is a winner more often than not in games involving Stoke, and this should be no exception with it at 8/13.
As with all Premier League games don't miss out on our enhanced wincasts on each game. For this we have enhanced Jon Walters to score in a Wigan win from 9/2 to 8/1. While on the Liverpool front Luis Suarez scoring in a Liverpool win is boosted from 15/8 to 7/2!
Draw @ 11/5
Under 2.5 goals @ 8/13
Worth a Punt:
Draw and under 2.5 goals @ 11/4
Stuart Downing first @ 14/1