Liverpool missed the chance to take all three points at Anfield on what was another disappointing match at Anfield. The story was similar to recent home games. The home side had the possession and had the better of the chances but failed to convert any.
Dirk Kuyt missed the best of the few clearer chances that were created by Liverpool. Heading wide from 6 yards as the game was entering the last 20 minutes. Martin Skrtel headed over as the game was about to enter injury time. The majority of Liverpool’s attempts were speculative efforts from outside the penalty area whilst. The fact that the visitors had three goal attempts throughout the game confirms that they came to get a point, and indeed they managed to steal one and smuggle it out of Anfield.
Liverpool’s home form has been the disappointment of the campaign and while a win was not on the cards they still remain unbeaten at Anfield. The home form sounding more impressive than it is with only four games won and seven drawn. Goals are hard to come by and Kenny Dalglish chose to play Kuyt up front as a lone striker. Unusually for a home side as dominating in possession a 5-4-1 formation was adopted with 2 wing backs in Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique.
Kuyt’s goal scoring record does not read as a prolific striker’s should. Dalglish started the match with Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll on the bench. Bellamy, always causes trouble for any defence. Carroll, the £35m man who should be better at holding up the ball, winning headers and challenging a Stoke defence. Surely this would have been the game for him to start.
The aerial threat was lacking until Carroll was introduced on the hour and credit to Kenny for making the decision to introduce him. Stoke had one effort on target which came in the second half. Stoke broke on the counter attack and Matthew Etherington took aim, to which Pepe Reina was more than equal. Before and after the Stoke attack it was the same story. Liverpool were passing the ball about in search of a way through the Stoke efence and past Sorensen.
Charlie Adam found himself at the far post from a corner and with most fans expecting him to do better so close to goal, the ball zipped off the surface and bounced off his thigh and was cleared with minimal effort by the visiting defence. Before half time further long range efforts were lined up by Henderson and Downing, with neither causing Sorensen any significant concern in the Stoke goal.
When Carroll entered the action in the second half the crowd sensed some urgency and were immediately buoyed by his introduction Within moments the record signing was in the thick of things as he jostled with Robert Huth from a Liverpool corner. Carroll’s appeal for a penalty was refused by Howard Webb and not too long afterwards Carroll and Kuyt had further appeals denied by Webb when they felt a foul had taken place by Stoke defenders Shawcross and Woodgate.
The effort and creativity that was trying to be injected in the second half as the game was drawing to a close was missing in the first 45 minutes. Had the home side started the game the way they had finished the result could have been different. Had the same players that finished the match been selected to start from kick off it could have produced a more favourable result.
As it was Stoke defended solidly and any test that Liverpool put their way they managed to clear the ball and have bodies in the way. Tony Pulis came with a plan, had his players carry out his instructions and left with what they wanted. The question Dalglish needs to ask himself and the players is why is Anfield the place that the team struggle? Does he need to dip into the transfer market and sell one or two players that are not living up to standards and getting one or two people in that could help unlock stubborn defences such as Stoke?
Liverpool Starting Line-Up
Stoke Starting Line Up
By Ashley Williams
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