Liverpool were good enough to actually beat Stoke, something that doesn’t usually happen since Stoke have been promoted and become something of a regular fixture, for good and bad of the English Premier League. Luis Suarez found the net, and even Stewart Downing, with Peter Crouch scoring against his ex in between. It didn’t help much, as a possible Merseyside derby looms ahead for Kenny Dalglish and Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard wasn’t as perfect and heroic as he was against Everton, but his presence for the full 90 minutes on the pitch for Liverpool, something that hasn’t happened much over the last two seasons, proved influential enough, and certainly better than with Charlie Adam in the middle of the pitch. Jay Spearing has defensive responsibilities, while Gerrard is free to do as he wishes, which finds him at his best at this capacity.
Finding a solution to the right side still hasn’t come to Dalglish, who started with Maxi Rodriguez that did assist Luis Suarez with a clever 1-2 to set up the opening goal. Rodriguez didn’t see much of the ball, but was very mobile, switching wings with Downing on occasion. Downing scored the second goal, the winner, coming from the right wing, doing the 1-2 (accidental) with Steven Gerrard.
In the middle was typical Stoke City football. Rugged, aggressive, at times effective enough to gain control of what was happening on the pitch, but not enough. The problems with it is the violence, and another example of bad refereeing from both the ref and his linesman, who get carried away with the desire to keep the game fast paced, even at the expense of actual fairness and right and wrong.
Stoke should have never won the corner, and Shotton committed a foul on Reina, preventing him from challenging the corner kick. As for the usual hurt ankles and knees when strolling around Shawcross, Huth and Wilkinson? Nothing new, and it probably won’t be changing any time soon.
Andy Carroll has become a role player. Mostly positioned on the left wing, with plenty of defensive contributions. It won’t make him bring back the 35 million he cost Liverpool, and he won’t be getting plenty of scoring chances like this, as Luis Suarez seemed adamant about not releasing the ball, no matter what. But Carroll looks committed and in much better shape, gaining some consecutive starting assignments.
Dalglish spoke earlier during the day about Liverpool critics and defining this season. A success? Hard to say. If he wins the FA Cup, it’s not a failure. Winning two cups for team without a title since 2006 is not a failure, and certainly an upgrade with Europe waiting next season in the form of the Europa League. But Liverpool missed out on fulfilling its potential. The Anfield draws and more than a couple abysmal performances away from home make Dalglish’s handling of the league affairs short of a success.