Improving Stoke Comfortably Draw At Anfield
The Potters were unfortunate not to leave Anfield with all three points on an afternoon that once again showed the frailties of a Liverpool side in transition.
Tony Pulis named an unchanged side that had triumphed last weekend against Swansea City, with only one change on the bench as the injured Michael Owen made way for Cameron Jerome.
Early pressure by Stoke almost provided the opening goal within five minutes. A mistake in the Liverpool backline gifted the ball to Charlie Adam but the midfielder shot straight at Pepe Reina when scoring seemed easier.
Stoke`s bright start continued as both Adam and Jon Walters shot in front of the Kop but their efforts were comfortably dealt with.
Liverpool were struggling to gain a stranglehold in the game and were unable to surpass a sea of Stoke players -wearing the club`s new red and blue away kit for the first time this season - as Steven Gerrard and co grew increasingly frustrated.
Stoke were pressing Liverpool high up the pitch and almost profited but Michael Kightly was unfortunate to see his long range chip superbly turned over by Reina.
Pulis` side were looking comfortable with the five-man midfield supporting lone front man Peter Crouch. And it was Crouch who almost scored against his former side midway through the half.
An inswinging corner was flicked on at the near post but with the ball flashing across goal the striker was unable to apply a telling touch as the Kop goal lived a charmed life.
Gerrard was looking to lift his side after a good spell of pressure for Stoke but his 30-yard effort was well saved by an expectant Asmir Begovic.
Liverpool almost took the lead moments later as a perfectly weighted cross found Daniel Agger at the far post however he saw his stretching effort go narrowly off target.
Brendan Rodgers` side grew into the half and Stoke were happy to hear the half-time whistle as they started to drop deeper as the first period went on.
After the restart, Glen Johnson had two good opportunities to put Liverpool ahead - his second effort clearing the cross-bar after a darting run into the middle with only the keeper to beat.
Stoke were still proving to be a match for their opponents and had another glorious chance to take the lead but after Kightly had latched onto Walters` knock down, the winger was unable to turn the ball back to Charlie Adam, who was ready to pounce on the penalty spot.
Steven Nzonzi and Jon Walters both had efforts not long after, before Liverpool substitute Joe Cole and youngster Raheem Sterling saw their shots comfortably saved as the contest started to open up in the closing stages.
Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez was once again making the headlines for all the wrong reasons shortly afterwards.
The striker who is renowned for his on field theatrics, threw himself to the ground inside the Stoke penalty area as City`s players and vocal supporters looked on in disgust.
Both teams went in search of that elusive goal and it was Liverpool who almost snatched what would have been an undeserved winner.
Hesitancy inside the Stoke defence allowed the ball to flash across goal and evade the far post as the Liverpool fans made themselves heard for the first time during the game.
The match will undoubtedly be more remembered for Suarez`s antics but, nothing should detract from another solid performance by Stoke. With a little more conviction in front of goal, it could have provided that first win in 50 attempts at Anfield.
The big man is thriving in the new 4-5-1 system and has received good support from midfield.
He led the line well today and was unfortunate not to grab himself a first-half goal.
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