Solid Stoke frustrate Liverpool

Stoke produced a solid defensive display to hold off Liverpool and take a hard-earned point away from Anfield after a 0-0 draw on Sunday.

Last Updated: 07/10/12 at 18:07 Post Comment

Suarez: Tackled by Whitehead

Suarez: Tackled by Whitehead

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

The stalemate made it five draws in seven Premier League matches by Tony Pulis' men, while a point will be scant consolation for Reds manager Brendan Rodgers.

It could have been worse for the hosts, who twice almost pushed the self-destruct button, but ultimately this will be viewed as another disappointment in a stop-start season.

Rodgers made eight changes from the side beaten by Udinese on Thursday, after which he called his players "lazy", and one of his targets, Stewart Downing, was not even on the bench.

Liverpool had been on the receiving end of a kicking from their manager in midweek, and got another one at Anfield at the hands of Stoke, who took their renowned physical approach across the line of legality on plenty of occasions.

But if Liverpool were keen to escape the sharp edge of their manager's tongue, they hardly helped themselves.

Twice, goalkeeper Jose Reina attempted to pass the ball out to a midfielder; twice, Stoke scented a weakness and pounced, and twice it was only the reactions of the Spaniard which saved Liverpool.

Stoke had clearly anticipated Reina would refuse to launch the ball long, and the first time it was Nuri Sahin who conceded possession, giving Charlie Adam a chance to humiliate his former employees. The Scot advanced toward goal, but Reina was quickly out of the blocks to narrow the angle and parry the shot.

Liverpool committed the same mistake again soon afterward. This time it was Steven Nzonzi snapping into the challenge as another Reina pass went awry and Michael Kightly tried to flight the ball into the goal, but the keeper recovered to turn it over at full stretch.

Having passed up those chances, Stoke reverted to type, striking long balls and stopping their opponents by foul means as often as fair, and the game disintegrated as a spectacle.

Liverpool's frustration increased, while the away fans chanted 'You're not famous any more', and all that there was to give the Reds fans some hope before the break was a sweeping shot by Steven Gerrard turned aside by Asmir Begovic, and a toe-poke from Daniel Agger that bounced wide.

Proper football threatened to break out in patches in the second half, as Stoke toned down their challenges, and it was Liverpool who had just about all the chances, although none were clear-cut.

First, a terrific combination between Gerrard and Luis Suarez was just thwarted. Gerrard then picked out Glen Johnson's run with a pass of arrow-like precision, but his England team-mate, on the run, could not keep the shot down.

A run of genuine brilliance by Suarez, the most gifted person on the pitch by some distance, nearly brought a superb goal, but he just bent the shot wide of the angle.

Raheem Sterling was presented with perhaps Liverpool's best opportunity after Agger's driving run, but he tried to drill it inside the near post and only found the side-netting.

Suarez then showed the best and worst of his talents in the space of a couple of minutes, first with a dive in the penalty area that was embarrassingly obvious, then bursting down the right and powering a shot against the outside of a post from a tight angle.

Martin Skrtel nearly snatched a winner at the end when he hooked Joe Cole's ball back across goal, but it dropped, agonisingly for Liverpool, the wrong side of the post.

A dreary goalless draw at home will hardly provide much succour for Rodgers - and Michael Owen, missing an Anfield return due to injury, can only be thankful he was not playing.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Footer 365

Bournemouth all but secure promotion to the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Bolton

Bournemouth all but secured promotion to the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Bolton on Monday night.

Jose Mourinho: Cesc Fabregas not in PFA team 'strange'

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says it is 'strange' that the PFA Team of the Year has no place for Cesc Fabregas.

Eddie Howe dishes out the plaudits after Bournemouth success

Eddie Howe was keen to share the praise around after Bournemouth effectively clinched promotion to the Premier League.

Mail Box

Mail From Fan Who Craves Relegation...

In this case it's a Sunderland fan who just wants to see a clear-out. We also have mails about Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton. It's long and it's sexy...

Is This What Arsenal Fans Feel Like?

'It's all well with the short and pretty passes, but we did absolute f*** all up front,' writes one Man United fan. We have mails on Chelsea, Brendan Rodgers and...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company