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Liverpool vs. Stoke: Can PMA Upset Liverpool?

With an extra day to sleep off the Christmas turkey, Liverpool’s finest will be looking to move a few steps closer to Chelsea in the Premier League race when they welcome Stoke on December 27.

With a hard-fought win over Everton in their last outing, Jurgen Klopp’s men will be hoping for more of the same against Stoke and the stats suggest that could be the case. If we look back through time, Liverpool has dominated Stoke at home. Although away trips haven’t been quite as bountiful, Liverpool has managed to win 48 of their last 65 ties against The Potters.

That sort of home form, combined with Liverpool’s recent run in the Premier League has naturally led Sun Bets’ odds makers to price the Merseyside as the heavy favourites ahead of the match. Currently priced at 2/7, the odds would suggest this will be one of the most one-sided festive matches this season.

It’s About More than Numbers for Hughes

However, do the numbers really tell the whole story? Well, according to manager Mark Hughes, last January’s League Cup exploits could be just the confidence boost his players need. Although Stoke ultimately lost on penalties in the semi-final, they did “win” the match 1-0 during normal time. Had it not been for aggregate goals from the previous leg, Hughes’ men might have made it to the final.

Unfortunately, fate would have it that they fell just short, but Hughes believes that his players can replicate that performance on the 27th. Speaking to the local press, Hughes claimed it was “belief” that helped clinch that match and that his team will be heading to Anfield without any pressure.

“We went there with a real determination and a key element to our performance was belief. We will go there with a positive mindset, not apprehension, and give it a go. There’s no pressure on us and we never go there with the intention of protecting what we’ve got,” Hughes told the Stoke Sentinel.

If PMA (positive mental attitude) can overcome the skill gap, then a tenner on Stoke at 9/1 with bet365 would make a nice late Christmas present. But, with news that referee Michael Oliver will be taking charge of the game, that positive mindset could be in danger of fading fast by the time the two teams kickoff.

When PMA Isn’t Enough

Oliver became something of a pantomime villain at Stoke after a dodgy penalty decision allowed Everton to score from the spot and earn a narrow victory. Although that incident took place on the other side of Liverpool, it’s something many travelling Stoke fans will remember and that could easily create the sort of negative vibes manager Hughes wants to avoid.

Of course, the players will have slightly more pressing issues on their minds when the game starts, but there’s always a chance Oliver’s presence could leave a lingering doubt in their minds. If that’s the case and Hughes’ only saving grace is a positive mindset, then Stoke could really be in trouble on the 27th.

Taking the outright odds out of the equation as they’re simply too short to offer much value, the bets of the day looks to be Liverpool win by one of the following score lines:

2-0 = 6/1 at Ladbrokes

3-0 = 7/1 at Ladbrokes

3-1 = 9/1 at Ladbrokes

Liverpool has already scored 41 this season and conceded just 20 which suggests they’ve got plenty of firepower in the tank. Although Stoke has only conceded 24, their strike rate is just 19 Premier League goals. Taking this into account, it looks unlikely the Potters will get a sniff of the net at Anfield. Yes, Liverpool might not have it all their own way, but once the floodgates open this one could turn into a riot.

For the most value, 2-0 looks to be a wise investment, but if you’re looking for something a little juicier and believe we might get a Christmas cracker, 3-1 at the price is a great shout.

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