Liverpool 0-0 Stoke City Match Report
After the tremendous result in Manchester midweek in the Carling Cup, it was back to league business at Anfield against Stoke City. Stoke City would be a difficult team to beat, and on a four match unbeaten run. Liverpool has found it tough this season at home drawing six matches at home. So a win was very important if Liverpool were to keep in the race for a top four place.
Liverpool made five changes to the team that faced Manchester City in the Carling Cup last Wednesday, with Carragher and Coates teaming up with Skrtel in a three man central defence. Kuyt came back into the team as a lone striker in place of Andy Carroll with Dalglish going for a pretty defensive looking 3-4-2-1 formation.
Liverpool started the match brightly and almost took the lead in the 10th minute when a Gerrard drilled corner was almost knocked in by Adam, but the Scot couldn’t divert the ball home. Liverpool continued to dominate the early proceedings without creating many chances but in the 24th minute a Stoke counter-attack resulted in Etherington drilling a shot straight at Reina from the edge of the box.
But it was constant Liverpool possession as Stoke aimed to frustrate the home side, but Skrtel almost opened the defence with a pass across the face of goal which Adam was inches from. Downing had a good run cutting in from the right but he shot just over the bar. Liverpool continued to struggle to create chances in the first half as Stoke remained resolute.
The second half started with Liverpool trying to raise the tempo and rattle Stoke and Johnson had a good effort brilliantly blocked by Huth. But for all their pressure, Liverpool were sustaining, they still struggled to create chances. Dalglish decided to bring on Andy Carroll for Downing in the 58th minute as Liverpool looked to break the deadlock.
Henderson had a back post volley blocked and Carroll crashed to the ground under a challenge from Shawcross at a corner kick as Liverpool looked for a penalty, but Howard Webb waved the appeals away. Then in the 77th minute a deflected Enrique cross was headed wide from six yards out by Dirk Kuyt. Moments later Kuyt headed a deep Bellamy cross into the side netting. Liverpool remained frustrated by Stoke and with time running out Skrtel’s downward header bounced over the bar and Stoke managed to hold out for a point and leave Liverpool frustrated once again at home.
I was very surprised with Kenny’s team selection, it looked far too defensive for me with three centre backs and Kuyt playing as a lone striker at home. Gerrard seemed to be playing too deep all game too as he couldn’t get into position to whip his trademark crosses in. Kuyt lacked support as we never got enough men in the box. But there was a lack of tempo from the start which suited Stoke. Stoke made it difficult but we didn’t help ourselves with the tactics. A couple of shouts for penalties but we should be creating more chances. Disappointed with Carroll, he came on and complained to the referee and went down far too easily instead of using his frame and knocking those defenders into next week. A very frustrating day.
Man Of The Match – Martin Skrtel – Another great match from the big man, and he tried his best in attack too. Unlucky with his header.
written by Jamie McLaughlin website at www.anfieldnews.com