STOKE CITY FC 2 LIVERPOOL 0
Absolutely marvellous….what a difference a week makes! After Tuesday’s fingernail chewing experience as the Potters struggled in the last 20 minutes to finish off Birmingham to claim the three points ,this match was a breeze!
Liverpool are not the team they were, so you could argue that if we were going to beat them for the first time in 27 years there would not be a better time.True enough but what we witnessed in this match was a Stoke team outplaying their once illustrious visitors throughout.
How things have changed in a few short years. How far we have moved from our first tentative inevitably defensive steps in the Prem.Tony Pulis fielded an attack minded side here to take the game to
Liverpool. Etherington,Pennant,Fuller, and Jones are all happiest going forward, neither is our central defensive pairing of Huth and Shawcross averse to roaming forward.Add to this emergence of Whitehead from the defensive cage, and the relative youth and energy of Wilkinson.
Stoke had Liverpool on the backfoot from the start,and kept them there with an all action performance for the entire 90 minutes.It say something that Begovic had less saves to make than against Birmingham.I can only remember two. The first a full length dive to push away a low Gerrard drive from outside the box,the second from very close range from Maxi as he connected with Kuyt’s cut back from the byline.
Rory Delap has come in for some criticism recently some of it unfair.Over the last two matches ,playing in his favoured central midfield position, he has been super, getting about the pitch, breaking up moves, making timely interceptions. Whitehead has been a revelation.He was absolutely everywhere,the oil in our machine,even shooting on sight! Etherington and Pennant were a constant intelligent attacking threat,and judging by the amount of scampering about they have 100% bought into the Pulis way of doing things,also taking their defensive responsibilities seriously.
So six points out of six, where most of us would happily have settled for four (maybe even two to break our losing streak!) just a week ago .A brief visit to the bottom three at five o’ clock, 10th in the table by seven thirty.Oh and a very welcome clean sheet too.
An impressive show indeed……wheel on the Baggies!