Liverpool are red-hot 2/5 jollies to gain maximum points from Stoke in front of the Anfield faithful in the sides opening match of the Premier League campaign and despite the potentially invigorating force of Mark Hughes in the Potters dugout, a pre-season devoid of fireworks has done little to convince that they are ready to shed their low-scoring ways just yet.
Having dispensed with the services of footballing brutalist Tony Pulis at the end of the last campaign, hopes may have been high that Hughes would usher in a new tactical philosophy at the Britannia and if pre-season is anything to go by he’s been doing just that.
Unfortunately the Potters’ new-found love for playing the ball out from the back and treating it as a friend rather than an enemy further up the pitch has failed to yield an increase in attacking menace, with five warm-up games yielding four goals, their most recent friendly against Genoa ending goalless.
With precious few new signings, the Stoke boss is not blessed with any particular means of adding fresh attacking impetus to a side that registered just 13 times in 19 away games last term and a return to fortress Anfield will hardly inspire confidence in their abilities to trouble the scorers.
The candy-striped visitors have scored just once in their last six visits to the ground, so it may be worthy backing the hosts to win to nil at 11/10.
Whilst, Liverpool usually deny their guests a chance to dip their beaks, they’ve seldom run riot during that sequence, only once scoring more than twice and three times being held to goalless draws.
In addition, they’re without 23-goal frontman Luis Suarez through suspension, but oddly enough their record last term was superior when the prolific nibbler wasn’t in the side. 64 per cent of matches without him were won, whereas only 40 per cent of the matches in which he featured ended in victory.
See exhibit A: their 6-0 St James’ Park riot at the tail end of the last campaign, for evidence of their ability to prosper without their Machiavellian talisman.
An infusion of extra attacking options – Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas – should only heighten the heady brew of goal threats with which they should eventually overwhelm the Potters’ weighty resolve and investing in a 29/20 multiple correct score bet on 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0 looks a sound strategy.