Christian Benteke showed all aspects of his game today against a physical Stoke defence, despite being unable to find the net. With much of the pre-match talk centring on whether or not their style of play would suit one another, both Liverpool and Benteke made sure to mix it up and try new things throughout the match. While usually used to playing on the floor and relying heavily on possession, Liverpool often resorted to direct long balls to Benteke, most of the time to little effect. When Benteke found himself cut off at the top however he was keen to drop off and come deep, making a nuisance of himself before slinking back into the box. It’s early days yet, but as long as Liverpool work on their creativity in the final third, then Benteke will be in the goals.
After the horror show that Liverpool endured on the last game of the 2014/15 season, the repeat fixture was a good place to test the overall side, youngsters as well as the new faces. Jordon Ibe was one of Liverpool’s more exciting players on the day, having the run of Erik Pieters before having a quieter half when he came up against Pieters’ replacement. Joe Gomez had to deal with Jonathan Walters and Glen Johnson on his right flank, a quite fearsome proposition for a player who only played 17 times in the Championship last season. Still, the two youngest players on the pitch for Liverpool had decent games but are they good enough to hold down a first-team place over the course of the season?
Aside from a late bit of magic from Phillippe Coutinho, the match was largely dull and passed without incident. Both sides had large spells of possession but were unable to create enough chances in the final third. It was a day for the defence, with both sides’ respective defences doing well to nullify the other’s attacking threats. Stoke were most dangerous from set-pieces, with Mame Biram Diouf the main target for most of Charlie Adam’s dangerous deliveries. Liverpool’s new midfield duo of Jordan Henderson and James Milner were industrious as expected but did little going forward, leaving Benteke feeding off scraps for most of the game.
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