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Boss highlights 'unique' challenge for his side's downfall against Potters'

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes that the unique challenge presented by Stoke City was the reason why his team were unable to continue their impressive recent form.

Goals from Ricardo Fuller and Kenwyne Jones condemned Hodgson’s side to their first defeat in four league games, just as it seemed the Anfield club were getting their season back on track.

Indeed, Liverpool had even beaten league leaders Chelsea last weekend as they put together a run of three league wins in a row, prior to Wednesday’s draw at Wigan Athletic.

As such, Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat against Stoke came with an element of surprise, but Hodgson believes you cannot compare the challenges presented by Tony Pulis’ and Chelsea, and that his team coped better with the latter than the former.

"Chelsea and Stoke are two very different teams aren't they? Today we've been defending long throws and long balls that are knocked forward towards our backline, corner kicks and balls flying into our penalty area,” he told ESPN after the game at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium.

"Against Chelsea it's a team who are moving the ball across the field and you have to control them - I don't think you can compare games against Chelsea with games against Stoke.

"Every team that comes here knows it's a very 'special' game. What you have got to do is defend as stoutly as we did in the first half and not concede that goal and do more than I thought we were able to do going forward.”

Hodgson believes that his side’s inability to prevent Stoke from getting the opening goal in the game left his side more vulnerable to conceding again.

"When the second goal came I was taking enormous risks and had the centre-half playing as a centre-forward.

"The first goal came again from a long throw, which before we'd been defending as well as we can, but unfortunately after that first goal goes in you have to take a few more risks and throw a few men forward, which almost got us back into the game.

"Unfortunately it didn't so we have to accept that we were beaten.”

The Liverpool manager was not looking to evaluate his side’s defeat too closely at this point, but he did not think fatigue was a factor in their loss.

"It's obviously a bad result - every time you lose it's a bad result.

"It is always difficult to give sensible assessments after you've been beaten.”

"I don't think it was a game too far [in terms of having the legs] because I felt we finished the game very strongly. I don't think it's a problem of legs, it's about coping with the problems that Stoke cause any team that comes here with the height and strength of their frontmen and backline.

"We don't have a long throw in our armoury and had to deal with that from them and then try to use our weapons and we didn't do that well enough until the last 25 minutes."

Hodgson thought that one reason behind his side’s inability to get back into the game after going behind was an injury picked up by striker Fernando Torres. However, the Spaniard remained on the pitch for the entirety of the game and the Reds boss expects him to be fit for Liverpool’s next game against West Ham on Saturday.

"I don't know whether Torres' injury affected him in the second half, it probably did - so we missed him after the break.

"It's a kick to the ankle and he's also twisted it a bit, but we've got a week so hopefully he'll be OK.”

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