Stoke stuff and Stevie, you’re not to blame

I’m still trying to fathom out what when wrong against Wigan the other night and how we were anonymous for such a long period of the game.

Some have suggested that we sat back (too far back) after scoring so early in order to protect our lead but we did have chances throughout the game? Perhaps it was tiredness after the Chelsea match? Steven Gerrard seems to think so.

“Maybe our performance suffered after the energy and intensity we put into beating Chelsea. You can often find that happening after you play a game 72 hours after a big fixture.”

One person who I don’t think was to blame on Wednesday was Gerrard himself however in the press he seemed more than willing to take the flack sighting two missed chances and that fact that he gave the ball which eventually lead to the Wigan equaliser.

“I tried to play a one-two that, if it had come off, could have been a good move. You don’t expect it to lead to a goal but, when it does, you have to take responsibility. Then when I went through on goal, I maybe struck my shot too well but I should have scored – I expected to. As we haven’t taken maximum points, maybe people should point a finger at me.”

I think Gerrard is being far, far too hard on himself. Re the Wigan goal even he did lose the ball what about all the Liverpool defenders after that who could have stopped Wigan? The chance he missed in the first half he created and the second, which came off the underside of the cross bar, at least showed that someone in the side besides Torres was willing to get forward and have a go? Surely, that is all you can ask? On another day they would have gone in and even if Gerrard was responsible he can be forgiven because of the numerous times he has got us out of the sh*t previously the most recent being against Napoli a week earlier.

And so to Stoke and another potentially tough game against another tough side who their day can be a real pest. Leaving aside the 4-0 win at Anfield last season Stoke have proved just that earning three draws with us. If the players were tired on Wednesday then I hope they have recovered as they will probably have to go on right to the end of this game. In the corresponding fixture last season we lead only to be pegged back in the last minute of normal time. Stoke, in their last game against Birmingham, also scored their winner in the last five minutes.

Team wise and Glen Johnson and Joe Cole are still out. As mentioned before Martin Kelly is proving to be a more than capable replacement for Johnson at right back and although I’ve been critical of the England International in this blog it is only for his defensive abilities, or lack of them. I’ve long thought that maybe Johnson should be given a go wide midfield. He clearly prefers going forward as opposed to defending so why not try him? Elsewhere and Kyrgiakos is back after tonsillitis and Jose Reina has said he is staying, as if we believed the rumours in the first place!

On the subject of Kyrgiakos I never thought I’d be saying that the Greek is in the team on merit rather than just filling in for injuries but hell he has been terrific this season. It’s great that this puts pay to BBC Radio Five Live’s Alan Green comment before this game last season when he arrogantly dismissed the Greek by describing him as “useless”. Yes Alan and you are shy and modest commentator who is really worth listening to!

Prediction? A win would keep the recovery pot boiling nicely and hopefully, other results allowing, propel us into the top five however, I guess it all depends on which version of Liverpool we are going to get? The attacking version that we saw in the second half against Napoli and the first half against Chelsea and Blackburn or some kind of shy, retiring unit that we have seen all to often this season?

I think HRH needs to realise that we are not Fulham and that we are more than capable of going out and killing off a game rather than nudging ourselves in front and then setting up the barricades and protecting what we have? Roy, we have one of the best midfielders and the best strikers in the world, go for it, use them to the max! 2-1 to us and Torres to continue his run, he’d better I’ve just bought him into my Fantasy Football team!

By the way this blog now has an index of match reports since it started in October 2006 so for machinations of previous games, against Stoke since this date click here.

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