Date: 20th September 2008 at 5:10pm
Written by:

Well, what on earth happened there?

Here’s a couple of stats for you on todays daylight robbery at Anfield by Stoke. Liverpool shots – 27, Stoke shots – 3.

I don’t even know the posession stats or territorial stats, but I can tell you that had the Liverpool players not had a purpose to be in the Stoke half today, then there’d be grounds to evict them as squatters. We threw everything at the visitors, Gerrard, Kuyt, Torres, Keane and Alonso all had great chances to score, and yet it was just one of those occasions when every cross was just slightly too high, or too low, or too close to the keeper. Every shot was just slightly too far to the left, or right.

Liverpool lined up with three changes from the midweek win in Marseille. Riera returning for his second consecutive league start at Anfield, with Alonso returning in place of Mascherano, and Keane back up front. Everyone, myself included, thought that this would be the day when Keane would open his Liverpool account, but the one good chance he had was saved, and the second chance he tried to pass it to Alonso when he would have been better off having a go. He claims he’s not being affected by the pressure of this lean patch, but if he’d have scored a hattrick in midweek, that chance would have been buried.

Hyypia was expected to take the field to combat the excocet missile throw-ins from Rory Delap, but strangely Rafa opted to keep the Carra/Skrtel axis that he’s had so much faith in this season. In the end it didn’t matter much, Delap only had about 3 of his infamous attempts and only one caused anything approaching panic in the box before Skrtel dealt with it well at the back post.

I confess the only bits of the game I saw were snatched fragments off a certain website using a certain programme that neither myself nor this website condone the use of :p so I had to make do with Steve Hunter and Alan Kennedy goggling in disbelief on the official site’s audio commentary, and it didn’t make it any the easier to deal with.

I’m sure there will be knee-jerk reactions aplenty now for the next few days, as some of our more fickle fans, and most if not all of our rivals’ fans will inundate us with digs and comments about how we can’t even beat Stoke, but all I ask that you do if you’re thinking of that is try and watch the highlights first – if Motd show even half the chances we had tonight then everyone will see just how ridiculous it was that we couldn’t find the net.

As the time drew on, frustration kicked in, and Skrtel kicked Ricardo Fuller for Liverpool’s only yellow card in what was by and large a rather clean game, though I’m sure those dear lads at Kopblog will have a good old rant at some point during next week about the number of fouls Arbeloa gives away.

It does show the fickle nature of the game that when Gerrard’s fantastic free kick in the 2nd minute was incorrectly ruled out for goodness knows what, it seemed only a minor setback at the time, when in actual fact had it been allowed to stand, and we’d played the way we played, we probably would have won 3 or 4 nil. Que sera sera.

To sum up what was effectively a day when we are all reminded firstly not to get carried away, and secondly just how football has this wonderful habit of kicking you when you’re on the highest high, I would say that we shouldn’t get too upset by this result. We’ve been playing poorly and winning, today we simply played brilliantly and drew. It happens, it’s not the end of the world. We’re still top of the table, at least until Arsenal and Chelsea play this evening and tomorrow respectively, and we have perhaps evened up the good luck we had at the beginning of the season.

All in all, it was just one of those days.