Stoke 1 Liverpool 0: Lessons learned from a frenetic clash
What did we learn from Stoke City's 1-0 Premier League victory over Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium?
Although the performances of Matthew Upson and Ryan Shawcross will earn most of the plaudits, Asmir BegoviÄ‡ put in a fantastic display between the sticks for Stoke, making a number of crucial saves and organising his back four to withstand the relentless waves of Liverpool pressure throughout the game.
Henderson lacks versatility
With his side trailing 1-0 at half-time, Kenny Dalglish decided to swap the two wingers over, with Stewart Downing coming across to the right and Jordan Henderson switching to the left. Whilst this helped bring Downing into the game after a quiet first-half performance, Henderson was unimpressive out on the left in a position where he has spent little of his short time in the Premier League. He was eventually replaced by the returning Craig Bellamy, who looked much more dangerous down the left.
Liverpool’s positive performance
Liverpool supporters will be disappointed to see their team’s unbeaten run come to an end, but this performance was nothing to be ashamed of. The Reds pressed well and, aside from a uncharacteristic mistake from Jamie Carragher, were solid at the back. Dalglish’s men were unlucky in the final third, with Luis SuÃ¡rez missing two efforts he would normally expect to bury – and Henderson and Charlie Adam had five shots in a row saved or blocked by the Stoke back line in a matter of minutes.
Stoke’s biggest test is still to come
Liverpool were never going to be an easy team to beat, and Stoke did incredibly well to get all three points on Saturday, defending well and looking lively on the break. But the biggest test for the Potters is still to come. Tony Pulis’ summer squad bolstering is to be put to the test when the Europa League group stage begins and City find themselves playing considerably more football between now and Christmas than they have been used to in recent seasons.
Walters stakes his claim
Talk concerning Stoke City in recent weeks has been focused on new signings, particularly strikers Cameron Jerome and Peter Crouch. But on a day when Jerome started on the bench and Crouch was relatively quiet, Jonathan Walters shone, winning a penalty by forcing Carragher to make a mistake and then emphatically firing it home. If that sort of performance becomes more frequent, Stoke’s other striking options may find it hard to get in the team.