A 0-0 draw at home isn’t a surprise at Anfield. For the second straight season, Liverpool were frustrated by the aggression and tactical fouling of Stoke who wanted nothing more than a draw as usual on their away trips, while Luis Suarez was in his frustrating and frustrated mode, busy diving and arguing with the referee.
He did have his moments of superb skill. Hitting the post, or that incredible solo run that somehow missed the target, while Martin Skrtel and Raheem Sterling missed good opportunities from close range. Liverpool completely controlled the pitch for 70 minutes, as Stoke forsake high pressure that actually resulted in a chance or two off Liverpool errors, and succumbed to their usual defensive and frustrating take on the game.
Brendan Rodgers would like to see quicker passing; more high-pressure; quicker position changers. Glen Johnson had some nice moments with Steven Gerrard, who wasn’t too influential aside from a nice couple of passes. Nuri Sahin failed to provide the threat he can with his passing and long range shooting; Suso and Raheem Sterling showed talent, but it seemed the game was a bit too physical for them both during certain moments.
Without his game plan still not completely enforced, Brendan Rodgers is completely reliant on Luis Suarez and his ability to make the most of situations or create situations on his own. On this match, following his hat trick performance at Norwich and a free kick goal against Udinese, was the bad Suarez. The one who feels deprived by the referee, while having a sort of a point, after Robert Huth stomped on his chest. Suarez also added one of the worse dives in the penalty box one will ever encounter, and might see a suspension coming his way, this time more deservedly than in the past.
Daniel Agger showed once more why it is vital that he remains injury free this season. Martin Skrtel will make one big mistake in the back each match, guaranteed. Agger is the calming figure, the less mistake-prone figure, on a back side lacking confidence along with its goalkeeper, who had a good, solid performance for once.
Liverpool turn to predictability at the moment, frustrated by physical sides and of not managing to get all the pieces going in the same direction. Above all else, is their over reliance on Suarez, while Gerrard had one of those days when he can’t make enough of a change, or not feel free enough to venture forward and play as Suarez’ second striker. The problems of not having an actual defensive midfielder, as Suso played more as a winger this time, were evident one more time, in the way it holds midfielders back instead of releasing them forward.
A work in progress, but the progress isn’t fast enough for many. Worse – Anfield doesn’t create points, in the league or in Europe, winning only twice at the ground in 2012, and still not once this season. Creating some sort of intimidation power is a must if you’re an aspiring club, hoping to be called “big” once again. Making your best player focus on what he does best and putting all the nonsense slights and frustrations aside is another, maybe even tougher task.