Preview: Liverpool v Stoke City

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to four games when they welcome Stoke City to Anfield on Tuesday.

After wins over Middlesbrough and cross-town rivals Everton in their two most recent fixtures, the Reds went into the brief Christmas break in second position in the EPL standings, trailing table-topping Chelsea by six points.

With the majority of the Premier League teams playing on Monday (Boxing Day), though, Liverpool could find themselves trailing Antonio Conte's side by nine points by the time they face Stoke.

And, looking ahead to what promises to be a busy week, Jurgen Klopp told reporters: "It is a run that could do that [end a title challenge] but I am the type of guy who thinks you can make it work the other way around.

"It is all the same for all the teams, or nearly all the teams. We all have to go through it and in the end the teams who use all the different situations in the best way will be top of the table.

"We are better equipped than last year but then we were only together three months and of course it was my first time with a game on Boxing Day, but not my first time with games every three days. That was not the biggest surprise for me. Of course we are in another situation now but we know each other much better.

"We have a big bunch of wonderful experiences together and that makes us all stronger. You have to play Stoke, City and Sunderland and they have all their things what they want to reach. It is difficult but not impossible and as long as it is not impossible. I am ready to fight."

Stoke, meanwhile, have managed to steady the ship somewhat since suffering a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal, recording back-to-back draws, against Southampton and Leicester City.

However, they face a decidedly tougher task in the final week of 2016, as they take on Liverpool at Anfield, before locking horns with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on New Year's Eve.

Potters boss Mark Hughes is under "no illusions" as to the tough task facing his side, but is optimistic over their prospects nonetheless.

He said: "We are under no illusions as to how good they both are and how difficult the matches will be for us, but we have to go into the games with real belief.

"We had that last season and we will give it a go this time around, too.

"Not many people are thinking we have a chance of gaining positive results but that certainly isn't the case within our camp.

"Of course they have players who can hurt us, but we have players who can hurt them too.

"We went to Liverpool last year and beat them and we also got our first point at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League so we know we can go to these places and be positive."

In team news, Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho is closing on a return to action following an ankle injury, although Tuesday's clash comes too soon for the Brazil international.

Defender Joel Matip (ankle) is also set to miss out again, while striker Daniel Sturridge is expected to take a place on the substitutes bench after returning to full training recently.

Marko Grujic, meanwhile, is edging closer to a return to action after recovering from a tendon injury.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes will have to make do without the services of key man Marko Arnautovic as he serves the second game of a three-match ban.

However, Hughes will be able to call on Ibrahim Afellay after the former Barcelona and PSV man recovered from a long-term knee injury.

Stephen Ireland, Phil Bardsley and Geoff Cameron remain on the treatment table, while Marc Muniesa (knee) faces a late fitness test.

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