Lou Macari: Stoke City should be on Reds alert over trip to Liverpool
I KNOW Stoke have just been to Chelsea an acquitted themselves well, but Sunday's visit to Liverpool will be their hardest trip of the season so far.
The knives have been out for Liverpool after a few dodgy results, but they don't paint an accurate picture for me.
Even in their very first game of the season they missed a bucket load of chances before losing 3-0 at West Brom.
They should have beaten Manchester City, but gave two goals away, and they were the better team against United until being reduced to 10 men.
Fixed fee sales package for any residential property, just £325 +vat. Includes listing on all major portals e.g. Rightmove & Zoopla, floorplans, photos, for sale board, etc. Call for more details.
Terms: All prices subject to VAT. Terms and Conditions apply. E&OE.
Contact: 01782 900100
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Even against Arsenal, when they were beaten 2-0 at home, they competed with the Gunners for the first 45 minutes.
Liverpool's 5-2 win at Norwich on Saturday, despite being their first of the season, is a more realistic reminder of what they can do.
I also think the Anfield crowd is a much bigger factor than the Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge.
I've never felt you go to Chelsea worrying about coping with the volume, but you do at Anfield.
Emotions are also running high at the moment in Liverpool after all those awful revelations about the Hillsborough disaster, so Stoke can expect a right ear bashing on Sunday.
Of course, Stoke do have form at Anfield. They have grabbed a couple of goalless draws in four Premier League visits, although I was there for the first and I have to say they took a battering.
But this is obviously a better Stoke side four years on, so they'll go to Merseyside with more confidence than maybe they have done in the past.
I imagine the media will draw attention to the fact there are three former Liverpool players in their squad.
That said, neither Peter Crouch nor Charlie Adam were there for very long, so I don't think that will be a factor.
Michael Owen was obviously a Red for a long and successful period at the start of his career, but I don't think anyone is expecting him to start a match just yet.
There will be those wondering if Tony Pulis feels under any pressure to throw him on at some stage because of those Liverpool connections.
But knowing Tony, there will be no room for sentiment.
Premier League points are his first, second and third priorities, so he will only bring on Owen if the situation demands it.
My friends tell me you'd have to be a pretty old Stoke fan to remember the last time the Potters won at Anfield ... 33 league and cup visits ago by all accounts.
It sounds bad, of course, but don't forget Stoke were facing a formidable Liverpool side throughout the 1970s and 80s.
We went close to ending that record in 1991, when my Stoke team grabbed a 2-2 draw in the first leg of a League Cup tie.
We were two divisions below Liverpool and thought we'd be lucky to win a corner.
Now if that game was played today, you'd assume Liverpool would have fielded half-a-dozen teenagers no-one had heard of.
But 20 years ago clubs never dreamed of leaving half their best team out.
That's why names like Grobbelaar, Nicol, Saunders, McManaman, Rush, Walters and McMahon were all on duty.
But so were about 6,000 Stoke fans, and they had one hell of a party as the Potters twice hit back from Ian Rush goals through Ian Cranson and Scouser Tony "Zico" Kelly to claim a deserved draw.