Stoke City 3-1 Liverpool
0-1 Gerrard (2) pen , 1-1 Walters (5), 2-1 Jones (12), 3-1 Walters (49)
Before his match one of the papers, and I paraphrase, described this as a game between one side that tries but can’t play football and another that steadfastly refuses to do so. Others were adamant that this would be a sure fire 0-0 draw, what a appetising festive footballing dish for Sky to serve before the fans!
As it was those who thought it would a goalless cold sprout leftovers type of game down paid for their clichéd thinking as we were treated to no less than three goals in twelve minutes in want, for neutrals, must have been a good watch. Sadly no one in red will take any satisfaction from this as we got the sh*tty end of this early exchange, mainly down to a combination of misfortune slipshod defending.
It was a clash of styles which is Ok as long as you don’t use that as some kind of excuse for being defeated. We need to ask ourselves why Stoke won when we had more possession and more attempts on goal and bossed it for significant periods The tables and current form doesn’t suggest it but arguably, on a one to one basis, on paper at least, we are better than Stoke however yesterday the sum of our parts was always less than theirs? Stoke made more of what they created and what they were given, they worked harder and got their just deserts A lot of this should got down to Tony Pulis’s ability to organise his team and wring the maximum out of what he’s got available to him? What about you Brendon?
We were unchanged from Fulham and began well. After only one minute Suarez was bought down by Shawcross and was nearly relieved of his shirt in the process. Pulis, for all his comments about Suarez at the last match between these sides, couldn’t argue about he validity of this decision or the credibility of the Uruguayan’s involvement in it. Gerrard stuck home our first penalty since, if you believe Brendon Rogers, King Alfred burnt the cakes!
You can go into detail about the significance of this, ie Suarez being fouled and finally getting something, but why should we? It was a penalty just as other incidents, earlier in the season, should have been given but weren’t. Rather than Liverpool look at this it is for those in charge to assess and make judgements about he consistency and credibility of the people they entrust to referee our games fairly and objectively.
A great start and time for Liverpool fans to think that perhaps, after the Fulham game, we could really kick on. However, before we had time to consider this too deeply, we were behind, slapped down again! The cliché is that a side is always most vulnerable after they’ve scored, but twice? Walters’ equaliser, if we are being generous, was down to a slip by Skrtel which allowed him a free run on goal however, there can be no such excuses about Stoke’s second?
Stoke won a corner and Jones, shadowed by Agger, simply walked away from his marker and went round the back of the crowd anticipating the cross. Agger didn’t follow him as if the Stoke player’s path was a forbidden one leaving him to try and head him off by another roundabout route. He failed leaving Jones ample time to meet Whelan’s cross and nod home past Glen Johnson on the near post. Johnson got a foot on it but he cold easily be forgiven for wondering why he had to make the effort in the first place such was the freedom afforded to Jones.
In fairness we eventually tried to get back into the game. Gerrard and particularly Suarez caused enough nuisance to call on the levels of concentration from the Stoke defence that our own hadn’t shown. Suarez tried everything, runs, dribbles shots, fouling the keeper, however, you got the feeling that nothing was going to go in. Perhaps, after shouldering the heavy burden of most of our attacking hopes so far this season, our man is tad tired it remains to be seen if Daniel Sturridge, should we sign him, can offer Luis some much needed rest bite?
At one goal down there was always hope however, perhaps we should be wise to this now? No Second half comeback like we saw at Upton Park a few weeks ago and the final nail in the coffin was banged home by Walters’ classy chest and volley from Wilkinson’s throw.
Even though there was plenty of time left we, presumably due to an overly urgent desire to get back into the game. Tried to force the pace and made mistakes. This played into Stoke’s hands who, at 3-1, were more than happy to play up to their increasingly ill founded reputation as footballing philistines and snaffle us out of the game by any legal, if not particularly pretty, means. We despite a number of attempts to changes things had no response, no plan Band no extra dimension. Stoke’s three points saw them over take us in the table, who is the ugly side now?
Stoke City: Begovic, Cameron Booked, Huth, Shawcross Booked, Wilkinson, Whelan Booked, Nzonzi, Kightly (Whitehead – 69′ ), Etherington (Shotton – 83′ ), Jones (Crouch – 78′ ), Walters Substitutes: Sorensen, Upson, Shotton, Adam, Whitehead, Crouch, Jerome
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard, Downing (Cole – 77′ ), Lucas, Henderson – 59′ ), Shelvey, Suarez Booked, Suso (Sterling – 46′ ), Substitutes: Jones, Coates, Carragher, Cole, Henderson, Allen, Sterling