Despite being bitterly disappointed at the result from a Liverpool perspective all I can really say is that Stoke did incredibly well to protect an early lead and put in one the best, backs-to-the-wall defensive performances you will ever see. Rushing, leaping, blocking, handballing, you name it, it happened. The stats show that Liverpool had more possession, more shots and more corners but all that amounts to nothing when it comes to the points. Liverpool will be gutted they didn't snatch at least a point but, due to a bit of panicked passing and Stoke limiting the space for anything pretty, they have to rue some average finishing at times, especially Henderson's one-on-one that he hit straight at Begovic.
Stoke will beat a lot of teams at the Britannia this year and the biggest problem for Liverpool is that Man City, Spurs and Arsenal all won. As performances go, it was full of cut, lacking a bit of thrust and shows that we probably need to get the balance right up front and will benefit from a fit Steven Gerrard. That said, on another day it could've been 5-1 Liverpool so my main feeling is of frustration. It was a corking affair, a game that would've dragged any non-football fan into its drama and you can't ask for much more that that. Apart from, of course, three points for your club.
Full-time: Stoke 1-0 Liverpool
16.52: Suarez misses a relative sitter. I'm spent, need to close my eyes for 30 seconds before writing a report.
16.49: Blatant handball, Suarez goes mental, shocking decision from linesman. T*sser
16.48: FIVE MINUTES LEFT. COME ED RED MEN!!!!!!!
16.45: Tremendous cross from Downing with his weak foot, poor header from Bellers. My head hurts, ar*ehole is twitching and shawcross isMOTM, which kind of sums it all up
16.45: Stupid diagonal ball form Lucas towards bellamy and wilkinson, only one winner, massive waste of possession.
16.43: Liverpool 17 shots on goal to stoke's 4, Liverpool 11-2 on target, combination of rushed finishing and some superb keeping and defending must be said.
16.40: Liverpool getting frantic and sloppy, let's call it floppy, just hope we don't revert to long balls. Someone needs to step up here but Stoke denying Liverpool any space in the final third and defending heroically, Liverpool opening up and could concede on the break. Corner after great play from downing, before he rifles over from 10 yards
16.38: 81 mins gone, horrid clash of heads between agger and wilkinson, I reckon 5 mins injury time. Agger has just had the worst shot you'll ever see. Skrtel off, Johnno on
16.37: If Upson was really injured then then I'm a Mormon called Dwayne, Crouch clears the corner. Typical, big bag of wind that he is.
16.31: 17 mins left, technical issues aplenty here but I'm gamely trying, Palacios is now on, Liverpool trying to be far too cute around the box with all manner of flicks. Need to think again. Bellamy getting lots of the ball out on the left and Carroll is having the p*ss kicked out of him, gets up to shoot, all Liverpool now, great defending by stoke. Corner
16.29: Carroll wins a free-kick instantlty after being wrestled to the floor, Liverpool waste possession. Peter Crouch has one of the weakest shots you'll ever see. Bellmay sends enrique free and Downing's weak header is saved
16.25: I'm going two mins before Bellamy winds someone up
16.25: You can keep your tika-taka today, this is a game for the ages. If this stays 1-0 i'll post a picture of my arse with eyes painted on each cheek. As predicted, bellers and carroll coming on any minute for dirk and hendo. Stoke coming back into it
16.21: 27 mins plus injury left, Hendo just hit one into Stoke centre on the volley
16.19: Begovic has just made five saves on the trot, Hendo got free down the middle and should have finished the first but after that Bego was ace, Stoke defenders also blocked a shot off Adam. Should've scored, hope we don't rue that miss, shame it wasn't Kuyt, Downing or Suarez. Get Bellamy on NOW
16.17 That should've been a corner there, Suarez unlucky. Bellamy and/or Carroll will both be on in the next ten minutes for Dirk and Hendo I reckon, a good game could get even better. Still think Liverpool will score.
16.15: Adam undisciplined there, no need, we could have recovered possession 30 yards out.
16.11: Liverpool firing, Stoke defending well. Is there a better out-and-out defensive midfielder than Lucas in the league at the moment? Also encouraging is Liverpool's new possession game, when it was the Torres / Gerrard axis everthing went vertical to Fernando which meant we lost the ball a lot, every player in midfield and attack is now comfortable with the ball
16.10: Although on that note Liverpool are now playing with inverted wingers and I was completely wrong with the carragher / Skrtel switch.
16.08: Good passage of play from Liverpool a hallamrk of the play so far this season has been the ability to switch the play from right to left and use the full width of the pitch because of the influx of left-footed players, Stoke can also do the same which is why the game is so open.
16.06: Upson has had an absolute stormer here, Pulis has assembled one hell of a squad. All they require, when Palacios beds in, is a nippy striker.
16.04: Kenny was listening, Carra has gone to right-back and skrtel in the centre which is correct but, however, will see a lot of diagonal hopefuls wanged up the field.
Still half-time here, and I've just been treated to 7 minutes of Marcel Desailly speaking in a voice that wavers between making dogs whimper and making you feel like your going to lose control of your bowels. Great defender, absolutely mental. And Ghana fan, definitely a Ghana fan, even though he chose France. Liverpool need to score in first ten minutes here...
If you're after some good half-time reading, read this ace piece on what Liverpool's cabbies really think about Andy Carroll by our new recruit Daniel Sandison
Half-Time: Cracking game to watch, blood, thunder, pace, trickery, a Jon Walters back heel. If I was a player, I'd love to play for this Britannia Crowd, loudest in the league by far. Stoke have held their shape well and attacked with gusto on the counter, Liverpool full of good ideas but lacking that crucial finish, although some typically dogged Stoke defending has stopped clear shots. Game on, I'm predicting 2-2.
15.45: It's not that bad a tackle from Delap but he should know better than to slide against a player who's feet were crafted by a wizened magician in the hills of Uruguay.
15.44: Hearing reports that Lazy tw*t Arshavin has scored for Arsenal. Anything else good or bad happened?
15.42: See that? Enrique shinning it? That's called sod's law, that is...
15.39: I've never seen a sportsman chew more gum than Steven Gerrard, except perhaps Steve Waugh in his pomp. Hard to see how there won't be any more goals in this, both teams very open, credit to both managers. Saying that, I'd have started coates and played carra right back. Enrique looking very good for Liverpool, best left-back we've had in 20 years, if not longer. Liverpool need a goal, expect Bellamy to come on with 20 left to go at tired defenders
15.36: Apologies to all, cooking with gas now thanks to Rupert Murdoch, never thought I'd say that
15.32: All regional jingoism aside, Stoke play some nice stuff and have a pair of wingers who will terrorise any team this year, increasingly worried about Skrtel. Honours still even in the middle of the park, both teams looking dangerous in the final third. I've just opened a large bottle of tsing tao
15.29: The meandering river that I'm watching this on appears to be somewhat dammed, meaning I'm behind the action and keep getting knocked off my stride by tweets by EOTK and LFC. So I may as well wax about Suarez until new avenues can be explored at half-time. Would any LFC fans swap him for anyone in the world? I don't think any other player, and I include Messi in this, would fit with what we need. I'd love Messi, but not at the expense of pistolero
15.23: Having now seen seven replays, what in the name of Ron Yeats is Carra doing with his arm, shocking play from a man of his experience
15.21: CAAAAHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT. Carragher doesn't need to make that tackle, Walters wouldn't have got a shot off, he'd have tried, like, but probably fallen over his laces. Hit the penno well mind
15.20: First accusations of skullduggery from the commentator, claiming Stoke have let the grass grow so Liverpool struggle to pass it. I believe that, and also that they've hidden stink bombs in the tufts
15.18: I reckon, when all is said and done at the end of the season if we're back in the CL, that I'll allow Downing and Enrique to roast me. Stoke defending like wild boars on PCP, great touch by Lucas to set Kuyt
15.17: I'm glad Bellers is back at the club but I don't think him and Carroll should be allowed to talk to each other or sit next to each other
15.15: Jon Walters just backheeled the ball (drinks shot of rum)
15.14: On a serious note, would send a huge message if Liverpool can physically best Stoke today
15.12: The message from Dalglish has been clear hear, don't let those b**tards bully you. Stoke fans booing Carragher for cutting his own head. Peace still alive in the potteries I see. I once went out in Hanley. Got offered three blowies (decline) four pills (accepted) and a fake rolex (mate bought)
15.09: I've said this before and I'll say ot again, Skrtel is an idiot. No need, Carra will have him for that with a rolled up copy of the echo, mark my words. Crouch leaps, Dog goes beserk
15.04: All week I've been quietly bricking it that Pennant will cross for Crouch to score. Don't let it happen...
Begovic, Huth, Shawcross, Upson, Wilson, Pennant, Delap, Whitehead, Etherington, Walters, Crouch. Subs: Sorensen, Whelan, Jones, Wilkinson, Shotton, Jerome, Palacios.
Starting XI : Reina, Enrique, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger, Downing, Henderson, Lucas, Adam, Kuyt, Suarez.
Subs : Doni, Carroll, Johnson, Maxi, Spearing, Bellamy, Coates
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