STOKE CITY FC 0 LIVERPOOL 0
Much respect to Rafa Benitez....his comments on Friday wonderfully articulated several of my own thoughts immediately after our Boxing Day match.Again after yesterday's match his comments reflected the game that I had seen(unlike Mr.Wenger's post match thoughts a few months back).I sincerely hope he continues to prosper.
Full house at The Britannia in seriously lively mode from beginning to end of the match,a tremendous atmosphere...A freezing cold night.Nine Stoke team changes from last Saturday's debacle at Hartlepool.
Stoke were very much in Liverpool's faces after the first fifteen minutes or so (during which period Liverpool moved the ball around quickly).It rapidly became apparent that several Liverpool stars did not really fancy the close attention that they were receiving....Lucas Lieva,and Riera in particular.
Stoke had their chances to win the game.Rory Delap hit the crosbar from close in,in the first half.In the second half Dave Kitson - even with 'one leg' looking much more the player who did so much for Reading- should have done better than find the side netting when he latched onto a terrible Reina clearance kick,and also when he headed narrowly over the Liverpool bar later.
Etherington,considering he is not fully match fit and coming back from injury,had a excellent debut for The Potters.If he stays clear of further injury (and other distractions) he is going to play a major part in determining our fate come the end of the season.
Abdy Faye and Shawcross gave everything, ably abetted by Higginbotham,and Wilkinson.In front of the back four Amdy Faye sparkled,while late replacement Glenn Whelan put in some sterling work, the highlight of which was a bending free kick which passewd narrowly wide of Reina's left goalpost.
Liverpool could have snatched a late victory but that would have been unfair to Stoke.Gerrard was involved in both near misses.He clipped the Stoke bar with a free kick,and then at the death he was put through by Torres deft header,but his shot trickled against the Stoke post and away to safety, with Sorensen unable to do anything about it.
A hard earned point -against the Premiership leaders - which took us out of the bottom three,and a performance to lift the spirits ahead of a visit to ......Chelsea......no problem....