The Potters Came Not to Play But to Battle
Today was supposed to be the day that Liverpool finally broke their duck and win a game at home but it was not to be.
It was also the home debut for Suso and Andre Wisdom, who look as though they have cemented a place in the first team ahead of players such as Stewart Downing. Stewart Downing was not even named on the subs bench, which going by what has occurred over the weekend is not surprising. In his place was Joe Cole who is trying to cement a return to the first team after a long bout of injury.
Now everybody knows how Tony Pullis and Stoke love to play the long ball game and for the first ten minutes of the game that is the type of football we had to watch and it certainly was not pretty. As hard as Liverpool tried to implement the pass and move style of play, it simply was not going to happen. Stoke were determined to do everything they could to stop Liverpool creating moves and moving forward, so much so that their aggressive side become evident very quickly.
If they could find a player to bump into and foul, they did so and the first of many of these fouls prompted Liverpool supporters to yet again believe that the referee was against us. The referee this afternoon was Lee Mason who for some reason let a rather severe tackle on Luis Suarez by Robert Huth, go without a form of punishment. A tackle which if the game was being played fairly, would have resulted in a red card or indeed a yellow card with a warning from the referee.
It did not of course and seemed to signal to the rest of the team that Liverpool was an easy target so the battle could begin. A battle which towards the end of the first half had to be reined in by Lee Mason, who finally started to dish out yellow cards.
When everything started to calm down a little and the football began to be played, Liverpool appeared to gain the upper hand, but there were still several silly mistakes by the players. Sahin, was the first player to concede possession and of the players to pick it, it was ex-Liverpool player Charlie Adam who went towards the goal. Thankfully of course Pepe was there to stop it. Now Pepe has not been in the best of form lately and he was partly responsible for our next mistake. He sent a ball straight out and into the path of two Stoke players, but thankfully recovered quickly enough to ensure it was saved as they sent it towards the goal.
Our defence of course has been one of the major talking points this season due to the silly blunders and the lack of concentration that they keep appearing to have. Today was no different to start with and it was a miracle in the first twenty minutes of the game that a goal did not find its way to the back of the net
Aside from this, as the game calmed down, Liverpool tried to play the style of football that we have become accustomed too over the last few weeks, but it was extremely hard going and the players frustration was beginning to overshadow the game, so much so that passes began to be given away. Stevie G and Daniel Agger gave us all a glimmer of hope when they both tried to score. Stevie's shot was turned aside by Begovic and Daniel's toe clip went wide.
Now I have no idea what Brendan said at half time, but the team came out determined to play a game of football - or so they thought.
Stoke of course decided to play in the same way that they had been, so the thuggery continued although to a certain degree it had been toned down.
Liverpool tried all they could to gain a foothold in the game and chances for us to score began to appear, although none were converted. Suarez had found a way through the Stoke defense but rather than pass the ball to someone else who could perhaps have put the ball into the back of the net, he sent the shot wide.
Raheem Sterling was our next big hope and after picking up a ball from Daniel Agger sent the ball into the side netting rather than the goalmouth. Now this young man played extremely well all afternoon and I am sure that at some point in the coming weeks, he will score his first premiership goal in the senior team.
With the game approaching its closing stages Martin Skrtel picked up a ball from substitute Joe Cole and as luck would have it, it clipped the post.
The match finally finished and unfortunately Luis Suarez has again become the talking point. Why on earth, after staying on his feet in the first half, he decided to look for a penalty and went to the floor in a blatant dive. Now we all complain about the referees not giving Liverpool any decisions, but whilst that is going on, the simple answer is that they won't.
Brendan really needs to have another word with him, because due to our lack of an out and out striker, I hate to say it, but as the season moves forward, we may find that we need decisions to go our way to ensure that we get some penalties. Penalties that will help our goal tally and possibly move us up the table. If not, with a striker being brought into the club in January, we could find ourselves with serious problems.