The season should probably have ended last week after Steven Gerrard said goodbye to Anfield in his last match at the legendary stadium, probably ever. However, Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool still have one more match to win, an away game at Stoke. With Raheem Sterling’s contract negotiations dominating the headlines, Rodgers and the rest of the team will be motivated to end the season on a high note with a victory in the last match of the year.
While Simon Mignolet could end the season as the ‘keeper with the most clean sheets in the league, it does feel like he has once again reverted to the same player that he was during the start of the season. While that regression could be chalked up to the struggling defense, it looks like Mignolet hasn’t been able to communicate with them effectively over the past few matches.
Emre Can has been a wonderful surprise this season with his strong play as part of the defense. He likely will not play in the back line as much next season, but his versatility allows Rodgers to adapt many different formations.
Both Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren struggled to deal with the Palace attack, however, they should be better this week in a back four. They will still need to keep track of Stoke’s leading scorer, Mama Diouf especially during set pieces since he excels in the air.
Glen Johnson is another player who will likely leave the team at the end of the year, but he should play well especially since he will want to prove that he can still hold his own against the best the Premier League has to offer.
Jordan Henderson will be tasked with trying to control the Stoke midfield while also contributing to the offense. Gerrard may not be on the field after playing his last match at Anfield. If he does not start, Lucas Leiva will likely get the opportunity.
Philippe Coutinho has arguably been the best player on the team this year and he should put in another solid performance this weekend. Rodgers and management should be building around Coutinho since he will likely be with the team for the next few years.
Jordon Ibe has just signed a new five-year deal so he will be motivated to show the fans why he is rated so highly by team management. With Sterling likely leaving the club, Ibe will take on the responsibility as being the team’s next great young player.
It will be interesting to see if Rodgers decides to play Sterling after it has been pretty much confirmed that he will be leaving the club after this match. If Sterling does not play, Rodgers could play either Rickie Lambert or the young but talented Jerome Sinclair.
Adam Lallana scored the first goal against Crystal Palace but was eventually replaced by Lucas as Rodgers sought to reinforce the midfield. He can be an inconsistent player, but when he is on form, he possesses the ability to break through even the best defenses.