Vital Liverpool report from Anfield on LFC’s goalless draw against a battling Stoke City. A largely forgettable encounter where Liverpool’s lack of creativity will be of great concern to Brendan Rodgers.
Attending a Liverpool match pretty much dominates the whole day. From walking out the door to get the soccer bus, having a few pre-match beverages, watching the game, right through to getting off the train on the way home.
Unfortunately, it’s a day that Liverpool fans will never get back and instantly forget after today’s goalless draw against Stoke City. The club’s incredibly poor home record continues and to say this was dull would be an understatement.
After a poor quality opening, it was Stoke who missed what was the best opening of the first half. On 5 minutes, Nuri Sahin gifted a back-pass straight to the recently departed Charlie Adam, but luckily for Liverpool, he could only fire straight at Pepe Reina when clean through on goal.
Incidents like the above are far too frequent an occurrence and it’s clearly a result of Rodgers’ courageous insistence on playing from the back – something Reina in particular appears to be uncomfortable with.
It was a case of déjà vu on 19 minutes when Reina gave it straight to Steven N’Zonzi who forced a fingertip save from the Spaniard with his attempted lob.
It was an alarmingly sluggish half from Liverpool and the only meaningful chance for the home side came on 28 minutes when Daniel Agger struck the post after stretching to meet a chipped Suso cross.
The team were likely to have received a ticking off from Rodgers at the break and in the opening minutes of the second half, Liverpool looked like a different team. The passing was much sharper and it resulted in a great chance on 51 minutes when a fine cross-field pass by Steven Gerrard was met by a rampaging Glen Johnson, but he could only lift his shot over the Kop bar.
As usual, Luis Suarez had a running battle throughout with the opposing defence and referee, but his immense talent shone through on 57 minutes when he came very close to breaking the deadlock. After receiving the ball just inside the Cottagers’ half, he embarked on a slaloming run right through the heart of Stoke’s defence and fired agonisingly over.
It was a case of ‘from the sublime to the ridiculous’ for the Uruguayan though, when on 76 minutes his pathetic dive in Stoke’s penalty area was waved away by Lee Mason. Far from supporting Suarez, you could almost pick out a collective shout of ‘get up’ from Liverpool’s fans.
Not only was it a sign of Liverpool’s desperation, but it also shows why Suarez tends to suffer with refereeing decisions. Rodgers appeared to turn away in embarrassment.
Liverpool huffed and puffed but showed no signs of snatching victory, the only exception being Martin Skrtel’s gilt-edged opportunity in injury time, when the Slovakian could only scoop the ball just past Asmir Begovic’s post from a tight angle.
In the aftermath of numerous home league matches over the last twelve months, Liverpool have felt aggrieved when failing to secure all three points. Factors such as the striking of woodwork and poor refereeing gave rise to bitter frustration, but it also consoled fans because performances were often not the issue.
In today’s game however, Liverpool had nobody to blame but themselves. Their play lacked cohesion and creativity from the first whistle to the last, and such an alarming shortfall in this regard will provide Rodgers with plenty of food for thought.
Teams will continue to adopt Stoke’s negative tactics at Anfield this season (who can blame them?) especially if they suspect an opportunity to grab an easy point by sitting back and playing on the break. Therefore, the onus is very much on Liverpool to overcome such resolute defending.
It would be tempting to describe today as a setback, but with only one league win this season, Liverpool haven’t really got going in the first place.
An international break beckons at an inconvenient juncture; as a result, the Premier League table will continue to provide uncomfortable reading for at least another couple of weeks.
Liverpool’s Star Player
Daniel Agger. Today’s performance provided perfect evidence as to why Liverpool were so keen to award Agger with a new deal. The classy Dane defended well when necessary but also tried to instigate several attacks with those trademark soirées forward. Unfortunately though, giving this award to a defender pretty much sums up Liverpool’s performance.
Reina, Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Allen, Gerrard, Sahin (Assaidi 79′), Suso (Cole 67′), Suarez, Sterling.
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Click here to read Brendan Rodgers’ comments on the match
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