Liverpool had one busy day amongst the dying embers of January’s transfer window. Kop (probably not so much anymore) legend Fernando Torres packed up and flew south to join Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea for a massive £50m, whilst Newcastle’s Andy Carroll made the trip to Merseyside along with Ajax’s Luis Suarez, installing an Anfield revolution within the attacking third of Kenny Dalglish’s transformed squad.
However, it will be Uruguayan Suarez who will get the honours on Wednesday night ahead of the injured Carroll, allowing the Kop faithful to lay spectacle to what could be their next hero.
In the shadows of the epically sizable cheques and James Bond esque helicopter scrambles, Liverpool’s vice-captain Jamie Carragher returns to action after just under three months on the sidelines with a dislocated shoulder. His presence on the pitch will be a welcome prospect as the Reds look to kick-start their stop-start campaign once and for all.
Stoke have currently won just three of their away games this season and will almost definitely find Wednesday night’s game a tough test, by any means.
However, Tony Pulis’ side will be able to carry the fact that three points at Anfield will see the team, who currently lie in 10th, leapfrog their opponents and slot into seventh.
Pulis’s side have a very awkward style of play, combining pure toughness with a hint of flair and attractive football, something that caught out a then Roy Hodgson’s side when the two met at the Britannia Stadium with the home side brushing a poor Liverpool aside 2-0.
The home side will welcome back one of their most influential players on Wednesday night in the form of vice-captain Jamie Carragher who has not played since dislocating his shoulder in November.
Liverpool also look set to add new addition Luis Suarez to the line-up as he completed his move from Ajax on the eve of the transfer deadline earlier this week and should be eligible to make his debut at Anfield against Stoke.
Kenny Dalglish’s side have a full bill of health with the exception of £35 million and former Newcastle striker Andy Carroll, who is still battling with his thigh problem and won’t be able to turn out in a red shirt for a few weeks yet.
Possible starting XI: Reina; Kelly, Carragher, Agger, Johnson; Lucas; Kuyt, Gerrard, Meireles, Maxi; Suarez.
The visitors will arrive at Anfield with just one injury worry as Danny Higginbotham is struggling with a hamstring problem.
However, to add to Tony Pulis’ defensive problems, Ryan Shawcross still has more games to serve as part of his two-match suspension for his sending off at Fulham.
Stoke let go of two of their strikers over the transfer window with both Tuncay Sanli and Eider Gudjohnsen making their moves out of the Britannia Stadium in January, but still possess the firepower of Kenwyne Jones and Aston Villa loanee John Carew.
Asmir Begovic should replace Thomas Sorenson who was given a run out in Stoke’s FA Cup win over Wolves at the weekend.
Possible starting XI: Begovic; Wilkinson, Huth, Faye, Collins; Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington; Carew, Jones.