Liverpool Vs Stoke City- No Clear Winner
By Simon Allen
It's tough being a Liverpool fan these days. All those Relegation jokes! Last weekend was a springboard for Brendan Rodgers. A victory against Norwich City will be a great boost for The Reds going into this Sundays match against Stoke City. The team did well against a lesser team and showed signs of being a good unit with flashes of brilliance from the main stars. But Stoke won't be a pushover team and I honestly don't think the odds are in favor of Liverpool.
Since 2008, this match up has produced 2 wins 4 draws and 2 losses for The Reds. The last time these two teams met in the League was January 14th 2012 and the game ended in a 0-0 draw. Something that Liverpool doesn't need right now.
Squad wise Liverpool are a changed team though. Last January they were playing with a lone goalscorer up top, Dirk Kuyt. Liverpool also used 4 midfielders, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing , Charlie Adam and Steven Gerrard. . remember the midfield as being lack luster and uncreative. So much so that Any Carroll and Craig Bellamy were bought in in the second half to light a spark and perhaps a goal. History shows that it didn't quite work but it was at least a good idea to have those two on the bench for such emergencies.
Against Norwich last weekend I believe we saw a gelling of a proper midfield. Gerrard was overseeing the future of the team with Nuri Sahin and Joe Allen and perhaps relegating Jordan Henderson to the bench. The midfield from last January just didn't work for me. Thankfully Rodgers has players that have stepped up an made the position theirs and yes I cheered when Charlie Adam was sent packing but now I fear he may have a bit of revenge on his mind as he is now a Potter. Along with Peter Crouch , he might want to prove to the Liverpool faithful that it was a mistake to get rid of him.
Going back to last January, I recall that the back line against Stoke City was relatively the same as the one that met Norwich City last weekend. The only major difference is Andre Wisdom. Against Stoke it was a Glen Johnson, Sebastian Coates, Martin Skrtel and Jose Enrique back line. With Jaime Carragher doing what he does best the Liverpool defense. I believe Jose Enrique will play a key role this season once he gets free of injury. The runs from the back that he and Glen Johnson made were signature moves that created space for Liverpool and a bit of confusion for the opposition.
Brendan Rodgers has claimed that Enrique was responsible for the two goals they conceded in the 5-3 win over Young Boys. Rodgers has even gone on record to say that Enrique has to change his attitude if he wants to stay at Anfield. Enrique has come back in his defense by stating that Liverpool hadn't spent enough money during the transfer window and that its causing problems within the club. Not quite a solid excuse for poor form he then went on to say his knee injury was the reason he has only started one match for the club this season. I'm not really buying any of it. Except for injury, Enrique is a brilliant addition to the squad. Last season he was a highlight and I honestly think that Rodgers just doesn't like him and will probably off load him as soon as he can. Which is a shame.
Stoke on the other hand...well...Peter Crouch is on a bit of a tear and will want to continue scoring goals. None would be sweeter than against his old club. Ryan Shawcross , Rory Delap, Jon Walters and Peter Crouch were on the side last January and I think they'll know what to expect. With the addition of Geoff Cameron from Houston Dynamo and a bench that includes Michael Owen and Kenwyne Jones, Stoke will not go down lightly.
It's hard for me talk about Liverpool without being called a “homer”. Today I was on a show where the subject was Major League Soccer's New England Revolution and I couldn't help but throw in an Steve Nichol reference. After the show, the hosts asked me about the upcoming match and I responded as any Liverpool fan would do. “We're gonna win!”
Raul Meireles scored against Stoke in a 2-0 victory in February 2011 and Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt and David N'Gog scored in a 4 goal thriller in August of 2009. But between those matches and today, there hasn't been much to talk about. So as a fan I would say “We're gonna win!” but as the Dalai Lama of Soccer I can only watch and see what happens. The ball is round! What do you think? Who do you think will win?