Posted by Barrie on Saturday, 16 January 2010

Selection Problems for Rafa Benitez Today

The misery continued to pour of Liverpool fans on Wednesday. Firstly a premature email for their “4th round FA Cup game” were sent out prior to being eliminated by Reading from the 3rd round. And then it came out a day later that Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun all face spells on the sideline. There was also talk of a pre-match bust up before that game.

Yes, we've all heard the problems for Liverpool, and today they travel up to Stoke for the lunch time kickoff to open this weekend's round of Premier League games. They also host Tottenham midweek. 6 valuable points on offer with Liverpool currently 5 points off that 4th spot they desire.

Will they win both games? I don't see that happening. Going forward they are set to struggle without Torres, Gerrard and Benayoun. Who else is left? David N'Gog's bright spell was short-lived and he isn't looking capable of playing the lone striker role. Dirk Kuyt isn't scoring or even playing well. Ryan Babel confirmed on his twitter account that he has not made the Stoke squad for today's game; still unable to start 3 games consecutively in a Liverpool shirt. Alberto Aquilani has shown some good passing abilities but we're yet to see his long range shooting abilities that we were told off. His heading leaves something to be desired. Javier Mascherano and Lucas aren't attacking players. Lots of pressure on Maxi Rodriguez today then if he plays!

Defensively they're not playing well either and Stoke could enjoy some success down the wings today. It's been a while since Rory Delap's long throws were in the spotlight – but do you sense one of them leading to a goal today?

Stoke City's odds have dropped from 4/1 earlier this week to currently 11/4 a couple of hours ahead of kickoff. Will Liverpool really lose again? There's selection problems in the side that suggest they do so. However Stoke haven't been at their best of late, but there were some good signs of getting back to form in their 3-2 victory over Fulham in their last game. I'm going with the safer option on double chance today because the odds were good when I got them!

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