Johnson downs brave Stoke
29th November 2014 3pm
Attendance: 44, 735
Stoke City succumbed to a late Glen Johnson goal in a 1-0 defeat at Anfield which kept up their terrible record at the venue.
In what was a very close game, the header spread jubilant scenes at Anfield on an afternoon when the home side had looked a pale shadow of the team that swept so many aside last season.
There were surprises on the team sheets too. Liverpool had over £100 million worth of signing's sitting on their bench along with club captain Steven Gerrard. There were also changes for the Potters with Cameron moving to right back, Marc Wilson returning at centre back and Erik Pieters back at left back in a more solid looking defence. Marko Arnautovic was also offered another chance on the left.
In a first half which can only be described as dreary, Stoke frustrated their more illustrious opponents. Whilst chances were at a premium Mark Hughes would have been pleased with his sides discipline.
The only blemishes were more injuries, firstly to Steve Sidwell, who was replaced by Glenn Whelan, who then had to leave the pitch himself at half time to be replaced by Charlie Adam.
The second half began much more brightly as Bojan again looked a cut above any of his teammates and he was inches away from breaking the deadlock after a lovely run and shot that beat Mignolet only to be denied by the post.
This sparked the home team into life as firstly Henderson and then Joe Allen had chances to score. Whilst at the other end Bojan was finding dangerous pockets of space, and in one of these he slid the ball through to Diouf who saw his shot well smothered by a nervous Mignolet.
The Potters continued to press, and Diouf again went close when he swivelled well to direct a shot into the corner only for his effort to be blocked on the line by Sterling.
With 15 minutes to go Brendan Rodgers introduced Steven Gerrard and it seemed to bring the Anfield crowd to life. The decisive moment of the match came with 5 minutes to go when Lambert rose highest and his header struck the bar, it was Johnson who reacted quickest and with his marker Arnautovic watching, stooped bravely to head home.
The Potters continued to push and Bojan would have equalised but for a wonderful save by Mignolet from his long distance volley, and he then claimed the corner to signal the end to Stoke's bid for a point.
It had been a brave performance which ultimately resulted in a disappointing loss against an under strength and nervous Liverpool team.
The big positve was the continued progress of Bojan who continues to grow in importance and influence on games, whilst the disappointments including Arnautovic who has lost all confidence and it remains to be seen just how much longer Mark Hughes will persevere with him as his attitude and application appear to have completely disappeared.
In a week that includes a trip to Old Trafford and the visit of Arsenal, Stoke desperately need a point to allow them to look up the table rather than down.