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Liverpool-Stoke City Preview
It is somewhat hard to reconcile that a second straight blown lead for Liverpool that resulted in a draw is a positive, but that's where Jurgen Klopp's team are as they look to kick on Wednesday night at Brittania Stadium against Stoke City.
Liverpool (6-5-2) are already 14 points adrift of rampant league leaders Manchester City, and a Champions League draw at Sevilla in which they wasted a three-goal lead was followed with a 1-1 deadlock at home Saturday versus reigning title-holders Chelsea. While they did squander a lead, the equaliser had more to do with a moment of magic from Chelsea's Willian, whose chip eluded the outstretched hand of Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and into the upper left corner on 85 minutes.
"It's very bitter to concede in that way, at the very last stages of the game," Mignolet told Liverpoolfc.com. "I think we deserved to win the game so it's always difficult to take when you concede an unlucky goal like that."
Klopp echoed those sentiments while still focusing on the positive.
"We had to work really hard in these situations and stay cool in our situations of playing football and we did it, so I am happy about big parts of the performance," Klopp added. "Everything was good until Willian crossed the ball. Most parts of the game are still good, but it doesn't feel well, that's how it is."
Mohammed Salah scored his Premier League-leading 10th goal and 15th in all competitions to give Liverpool the lead midway through the second half. The Egypt international has nine goals in his last eight matches across all competitions and has five markers in six Premier League away contests.
"It's ridiculous," Liverpool midfielder Joe Gomez said of Salah's proficiency rate. "He's come in and he's been a massive addition to us. The goals he has scored but also his general play, his link-up. Our whole attacking force is quality, everybody knows that, so hopefully he can keep doing it for us."
Stoke City (3-4-6) are amidst an 0-2-1 stretch and got sucked closer into a relegation scrap after Saturday's 2-1 loss at last-place Crystal Palace.
Xherdan Shaqiri staked the Potters to the lead on 53 minutes, but a defensive lapse allowed Palace to quickly equalise, and Ryan Shawcross was to blame on the match-winner when he failed to cut out Wilfried Zaha's cross as the play eventually ended with Mamadou Sakho getting the winner in the 92nd minute.
Mark Hughes' team has squandered three one-goal leads in the last two matches, and the frustration boiled over for the Switzerland international Shaqiri.
"It's unbelievable that we go in front and let them come back," he told The Stoke Sentinel. "It cannot happen. In the last few games it's been the same and that's not acceptable … we have to defend better, we have to show more confidence when we go in front and in general in the game.
"At the moment we are scoring but maybe we are scared about conceding. We go in front and you can't let a team like Crystal Palace who have no confidence at the moment get back and then win the game. That cannot happen."
Stoke have posted two clean sheets this season, with only one in the last 12 matches. They have shipped two or more goals in eight games and have taken just six points in the five games in which they have netted at least two (1-3-1).
Liverpool have won three on the bounce in this series after doing the double last season. They overcame an early deficit in last season's corresponding fixture for a 2-1 victory as Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho scored two minutes apart in the second half.
The Merseysiders have won three on the bounce at Stoke and five of the last seven (5-0-2) there in all competitions.
Updated November 27, 2017