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Why Liverpool ‘should’ risk this striker against Stoke

The Premier League campaign starts this weekend, with all eyes on a Liverpool team post Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard.

Brendan Rodgers’ men have moved quickly in the transfer market this summer to make up for the disappointment of last season, which culminated in an embarrassing 6-1 humbling at the hands of Stoke on the final day of the campaign.

Ironically, the Merseysiders return to the scene of the crime this weekend, as the Reds face Mark Hughes’ men again at the Britannia Stadium.

With no Liverpool player reaching double figures in the goals tally last term, Rodgers has looked to bolster his attacking options before 2015-16 and the club’s forward line will have an entirely different look about it this season.

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Much of the expectation will be placed on Christian Benteke’s shoulders, with the powerhouse Belgian becoming the historic club’s second most-expensive player after the Reds activated his £32.5million Aston Villa release clause last month.

Benteke will hope to avoid a similar fate to the only man that has cost the Anfield team more, Andy Carroll, and to do so will want to prove any doubters wrong with a quick start to life at his new club.

However, the former Genk hitman is currently not at 100 per cent fitness, with question marks over whether Brendan Rodgers will throw his new striker directly into the mixer.

There certainly are other options, such as Divock Origi or Danny Ings, while fellow big-money addition Roberto Firmino could well operate as the furthest man forward if he is deemed fit enough to feature.

That said, despite Rodgers having more options in his attack than he did last season, fielding Benteke from the start against Stoke makes sense.

The powerhouses Belgian showed a glimpse of what he is capable of with a spectacular strike in a pre-season win over Swindon recently, while Rodgers has been full of praise for the striker’s displays in training.

As such, it looks like Benteke’s confidence is high – which is something that Liverpool would be best advised to tap into.

During his time at Villa, although injuries took their toll also, it was evident when the centre forward’s self-belief was either high or low, with the striker unplayable when he was in the mood.

If there is a chance that Benteke is in similar pomp at the moment, he could well be the man to reverse a 6-1 defeat into a victory.

Similarly, facing Stoke is always a physical challenge and having someone of the Belgium international’s stature and physique leading the line shows that the visitors are not ready to be intimidated like they were in May.

Ultimately, Rodgers will have to live and die by his transfer decisions this season, with Benteke’s fortunes potentially dictating whether Liverpool’s campaign is a success or failure.

As such, getting the Belgian into the team from the beginning of the season makes sense.

Article title: Why Liverpool ‘should’ risk this striker against Stoke

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