Skrtel ready for Stoke 'fight'
Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel believes Stoke take their penalty area grappling to the extreme and admits the Reds' Boxing Day trip will be more about the fight than football.
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The Potters have long been criticised for their physical approach but their methods at set-pieces have come in for scrutiny in recent weeks.
Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini was sent off for headbutting Ryan Shawcross after becoming frustrated with the constant holding and shoving during their 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium 10 days ago.
Skrtel accepts it is part of the game you have to deal with, even if Stoke sometimes go too far.
"The game against Stoke is not about the football, it is about the fight and the tackles," said the Slovakia international.
"The fighting in the box at throws, corners and free-kicks was always part of the game but it can be too much.
"What they do is sometimes too much but they are doing well this season, keeping clean sheets.
"We have to deal with it and that is the key for us as defenders, to fight against them and then our creative players can play our game and try to score goals.
"It is always difficult to play against them, especially away from home but we know if we play our game it can be good.
"We will just try to beat them and get the three points because that is very important for us.
"I hope and believe we can score goals and win there. With three games in a few days that will be key."
At the weekend Skrtel proved he can be a threat in the penalty area with a brilliant volley to open the scoring in the 4-0 victory over Fulham.
It was his second strike of the season and only the ninth in 196 matches for the Reds but one which will live long in the memory.
"I think it was the best goal I have ever scored. I just took my time, tried to hit the goal and it was nice," the 28-year-old added.
"I think it was a great performance from everyone against Fulham and we did well: we scored four goals and that showed our quality.
"We need to carry on, try to climb the table and finish in the top four as that is our target.
"This season there have been plenty of games we've done well but have not been able to take them and score goals and win the games.
"The way we played against Fulham was brilliant and a great performance and if we carry on this way it will be a nice future for us."
Winger Stewart Downing, whose goal against Fulham was his first in the Premier League goal for the club since joining 17 months ago, believes the weekend victory has given them the boost they needed before they head off to the Britannia.
"We can go to Stoke with confidence," said the England international.
"I think we can go and beat them and QPR (on December 30) as well and with the strength in depth we have - and we can add in January - I think we can kick on.
"We certainly have quality, we just need to put back-to-back wins together."