Firmino, Mane set to return to Liverpool's starting lineup for Stoke clash

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"A lot of things could have happened and boys did really well, so I am happy about that but I am not happy about the result".

"We need to get closer and closer and closer until you are as close so you can get there, and that's the plan".

"In our situation, in all the other club's [situations], if we would really now think about Manchester City we would all be really insane". If I say we have to use our experiences so that makes us mentally stronger, 100 per cent.

"How long that takes, I have no idea".

Berahino does still have time on his side as his best years, in theory, should be ahead of him. We take a look at the merits of letting five of the current squad go.

Asked about negativity among the Staffordshire club's fans, Hughes said: "There seems to have been negativity from probably the beginning of the season and we only dissipate it by winning". I can't promise more. "The others don't struggle".

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was drafted in to play on the left flank against the Premier League champions, and while he was busy throughout, setting up Mohamed Salah's opening goal, he lacked the same penetrative threat that the former Southampton man brings to a team. Sometimes it is just unlucky.

Liverpool are now sixth in the table with 23 points from 13 matches and, with only three points separating the Reds from third-placed Chelsea, there is clearly all to play for over the next few months.

"It is absolutely possible we could go up three or four positions and be on top - and that is where we want to be".

"But not for us in this moment because we are too far away, of course".

Zouma operates on the right of this defensive trio where he'll be responsible for keeping Mane quiet, a player whose form this year has seen him nominated for the BBC's African Footballer of the Year award along with teammate Mohamed Salah.

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