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Liverpool v/s Stoke City : Match Review

SENIOR ANALYST
893   //    27 Dec 2012, 10:56 IST

Liverpool FC went into their match against Stoke high on confidence after a 4-0 thumping of strugglers Fulham at Anfield over the weekend and started the match in the best possible fashion after Luis Suarez was tugged by Ryan Shawcross inside the penalty box and referee Howard Webb, to the delight of the Liverpool fans, pointed towards the penalty spot for the club’s first penalty of the season so far which Steven Gerrard dispatched away calmly to the right hand corner of the goal, sending Stoke-keeper Asmir Begovic the other way. 1-0 Liverpool with only two minutes played.

The signs looked ominous, Liverpool had scored early and had picked up right from where they had left off against Fulham. Sadly, that was to be the only positive for the men in Red as three minutes after the Gerrard goal, Agger mistimed a header from a Stoke long ball which fell directly into the path of a marauding Walters, who was helped by Skrtel when the Slovak slipped and Walters found himself one-on-one with Reina and dispatched the ball coolly to his left with a neat finish 5 minutes into the game and Stoke had restored parity.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Kenwyne Jones of Stoke City celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium on December 26, 2012, in Stoke-on-Trent, England.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 26: Kenwyne Jones of Stoke City celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium on December 26, 2012, in Stoke-on-Trent, England.

Stoke were pressing now and in the eleventh minute, a Dean Whitehead corner was slotted into the net by Kenwyne Jones after some poor marking by Agger had left him with enough space inside the box. The initiative had been lost and already it seemed that Liverpool would have to dig deep if they were to take anything away from the match against a Stoke side which was very well organised and structured. Soon afterwards, they started asserting themselves but with no real threat to the Stoke goal with a Steven Gerrard effort being the only goal-bound shot in the first half.

Rodgers, who had named an unchanged line-up, made a second half change as young Suso made way for Sterling, but soon again it was Stoke who stuck in the fiftieth minute when a long throw was headed on by Jones to Walters, who controlled it perfectly on his chest before executing a beautiful volley from a tight angle to score Stoke’s third and his second of the night. At 3-1, Stoke had all but put the game to bed. Immediately after though, a Sterling run down the left found Suarez free inside the box with only the keeper to beat, but a hustling Suarez tucked the ball wide which touched the post on its way out.

The introduction of Jordan Henderson and Joe Cole had little impact on the game as Liverpool pushed hard to no avail and Stoke were happy to sit back and defend as their sheer physical strength and effective marking did not present Liverpool with any goal-scoring opportunity. The match ended 3-1 culminating into the Reds’ sixth loss of the season and their second in the past three games as they slumped to tenth in the table with Stoke moving up to eighth.

Stoke next take on the Saints at home while Liverpool travel away to lowly QPR.

Man of the Match – Jonathan Walters : Walters, who had scored a penalty in the same fixture last season at the  Britannia to give Stoke a 1-0 win, once again proved too hot to handle for an under-performing Liverpool defense. The childhood Everton fan made the most of his limited chances, scoring twice at the beginning of each half. He distributed the ball well and was always pressing the Liverpool back-line, some of which pressured the visitors into making sloppy passes and put them in a spot of bother. His second goal could also be regarded as Stoke’s best this season.

Flop of the Match – Jonjo Shelvey : The Liverpool midfielder was inconspicuous throughout the game and was often found spilling passes all over the field. His first touch was poor and he found it hard to navigate through the Stoke midfield on more than one occasion, often being at the centre of disrupting a fluid forward move. The attempts he did have on goal were either to meek or way off the mark so as to not to worry Asmir Begovic.

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SENIOR ANALYST
Enthusiastic sports buff often confused about the way Sports organisations function in our country..Breathes Football..adores Tennis.. being an Indian I have to be a cricket Fanatic...A Soft Corner for Indian Hockey along with a little bit of F1 too!
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