Here is a small review of the Liverpool – Stoke game, which we (Reds) won -0 courtesy of a Daniel Sturridge strike
Typical Liverpool performance, miss a bunch of sitters and way chances. Only difference this time is that we were fortunate not to concede in the dying stages of the game.
Positives: Good build up and link up play. Coutinho proving yet again that he will be immense. Better pressure when we don’t have possession. Centre backs pushing up regularly (not only on corners). Anfield was rocking! It’s rare for season openers to serve such a scintillating atmosphere but this game reminds me of those famous European nights. Seeing the whole Kop stand for the last minutes of the game and the crowd sing YNWA felt very special. Sturridge coming back from his injury to play after fears he would miss the start of the season was great as well, him scoring was a sweet bonus.
Last season Stoke played us off the park away and got a point at Anfield. In both games (especially at the Brittania) we were bullied easily and we were overwhelmed easily all over the pitch and had little going our way. Now it can be argued that Pulis’ deployed a totally different strategy than Hughes, but the core of the physical Stoke team is still there. Our players stood up to the physically stronger players and did not give in easily to pressure.
So-so: Mignolet’s performance. Made life difficult for himself early on in the game but proved his worth with key stops at the end of either half. The penalty save and the following quick reaction block were great. He’s big, tall and young. He has the potential for sure but the understanding between him and the defenders has to be worked on.
Negatives: In the first half we were not creating as many spaces and chances as we should have. Sometimes the players seemed too static to my liking but this improved as the game opened up in the second half and we created more chances, which we did not take advantage of. This is something we had for several seasons now under different bosses. Small example: when Henderson was played on goal with only the keeper to beat, why did he take it on his weaker foot allowing Begovic to come out and block his game effort? Anyhow, this hopefully will be rectified and improved regardless of who we will have in the squad come September 1st (Banned Suarez or Willian).
The hand ball. I love Agger, I honestly think he is one of the best defenders out there but that was one of the most awkward handbills I’ve seen a central defender concede. Our concentration levels dipped in the minutes leading to the goal (not helped by a blatantly wrong decision to give a corner to Stoke which led to sustained pressure. The handball was inexplicable and had Stoke converted the spot kick we’d have bemoaned another typical abject Liverpool performance.
All in all, good to be top of the league, albeit for two hours! Got the win against a team we traditionally struggle against and we somehow preserved a clean sheet. No disrespect to Stoke but we will have bigger and more testing games very soon. We need to improve and score more goals upfront to close off games without these last minute scares and potential disappointments
On a different note: Hahahahahha at Arsenal!