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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
14 January 2012
• Anfield, Liverpool
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 44691
For those who has stuck with me through this drab and dreary January tie, I salute you. Newcastle United-QPR & Swansea City-Arsenal will have LIVE! commentaries on Goal.com tomorrow so do stop by if either of those clashes sound appealing!
90' + 4'
Rory Delap takes a good 30 seconds to take a long throw before giving it short, but Stoke lose possession quickly. Moments later Howard Webb blows the full-time whistle and the game ends 0-0. Plenty of neat play from Liverpool but their lack of goalscoring opportunities has cost them all three points.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Jonathan Walters
90' + 3'
Dalglish certainly cannot blame goalkeeping heroics in his post-match interview - Sorensen has rarely had a save to make. Yellow card for Walters who gives away a free-kick wide on the left Liverpool flank. The dead ball is launched in by Bellamy but Sorensen leaps and holds onto the ball at the back post for Stoke.
A grand total of four minutes to play at Anfield. If either side fail to score then they will draw for the fourth time in 11 games in the Premier League this season.
HOLD THE PRESS! Stoke are in Liverpool's half. It does not last long though as Fuller's winding run sees him foul Carragher on the left side of the Reds' box.
Ricardo Fuller makes a later appearance for the visitors, coming on for Matthew Etherington. Stoke are camped in their box, heading and hoofing clear every corner and cross that Liverpool send their way.
The corner is headed towards the floor and goalwards by Skrtel but it bounces over the bar. So close and yet so far for the hosts.
Skrtel's slide-interception puts Carroll in down the right and his ball to the back post is headed out for a corner before Bellamy can make a connection on it.
Yellow Card T. Sørensen
Sorensen gets a yellow card for time wasting on a goal-kick.
First there are unsuccessful shouts again for a Liverpool penalty and then Dirk Kuyt has a header in the box, this time just past Sorensen's left post, but his effort is directed straight into the side netting.
Stoke head into the last 10 minutes clinging onto this draw then. If the score does finish this way then it will be hard on Liverpool, who dominated from the start. On the other hand, the visitors have defended valiantly and Tony Pulis will argue they will have earned their point.
Well, well, well. Charlie Adam has a shot from the halfway-line but Sorensen manages to catch it and (just) keep it from going out for a Liverpool corner. An ambitious effort but arguably a waste with so little time left.
Kuyt, five-yards from goal, unmarked, puts his header wide right of Sorensen's goal. The Dutch forward will be fuming inside because that was the best chance of the match for the home team, when Enrique's cross takes a deflection before falling nicely for Kuyt. It remains 0-0.
Shouts from Kuyt and the home fans who believe Liverpool deserve a penalty when the Dutch forward goes tumbling to the ground in the box, but Howard Webb gives a goal-kick to the Stoke after Johnson's cross exits play. Replays indicate Kuyt made a meal of the challenge in the box from Jonathan Woodgate.
Henderson leaves the field for Craig Bellamy. A little over 15 minutes left at Anfield.
26 minutes into the second half and Stoke have had 34-per-cent possession - an improvement of 2-per-cent on the same stage in the first-half. It's hardly a significant enough improvement to congratulate the Potters on, is it? Still, they deserve a clap on the back for the way they have kept Liverpool from fashioning clear-cut chances.
Not much to write home about over the past couple of minutes; all that is happening are both sides being penalised for petty challenges on one another.
Gerrard's slow reaction is pounced upon by Walters but the Republic of Ireland forward skews his shot embarrassingly high and wide from the edge of the Liverpool box.
Peter Crouch has been as ineffective as a paper umbrella for much of the game but the former Liverpool forward is still a prominent aerial target from goal-kicks and dead balls. If the away side were able to whip a decent cross from a corner or free-kick to the England international then maybe he can carve his name in this Anfield clash.
Charlie Adam has a pop from 30-yards or so out but it drifts low and wide right of the target.
Wilson Palacios makes way for Stoke City with Dean Whitehead coming on for the former Spurs tough-tackler.
The atmosphere of the game certainly has been lifted since Carroll's arrival. The former Newcastle United man gets in the way of Henderson's shot in front of goal, however, when Gerrard puts Enrique in down the left and his cross to the back post reaches the ex-Sunderland midfielder.
The Anfield home fans are not too pleased when Howard Webb gets a throw-in decision wrong, deeming Gerrard to have deflected the ball out of play on the Liverpool left when in fact it hit Glenn Whelan last.
Stewart Downing makes way for the home side for Andy Carroll to make his mark on the 3 o'clock kick-off. The Reds playing with two up front now.
Steven Gerrard lobs a ball through the Stoke back-four but Kuyt is not quite quick enough to reach the skidding ball, which the Potters shot-stopper can collect.
Adam splices an astromically good ball diagonally from the right but Enrique's ball from the left corner flag is too near Sorensen who collects for Stoke and kicks it back into the mixer.
Yes, the Geordie striker is warming up on the sidelines and, with clear-cut chances appearing at a premium for the home side, you just know he will be on the pitch soon. In fact, the England international is stripping off and preparing to come on right now.
Jose Enrique lofts a wonderful ball in from the left but there is nobody waiting at the penalty spot where the ball drops down. If only a certain other ex-Newcastle player was on the pitch...
Johnson cuts inside from wide on the right bye-line, but his bobbled attempt goes wide of Sorensen's left upright.
Down at the opposite end, Jamie Carragher has a bit of nervous moment, heading way too powerfully to the left of his keeper Reina and giving away a corner. Stoke waste their first corner of the game though, Etherington's near post delivery dealt with quickly by the home side.
Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt lofts a ball in but it flies straight to a Stoke forehead. Moments later Glen Johnson has grappled his way down the right side of the box but, after cutting inside onto his left foot, his near post shot is blocked by Stoke's Marc Wilson.
And we are back underway at Anfield. No changes yet in Merseyside but you can bet your bottom dollar there will be changes if the score stays this way for much longer.
The other side of the argument is that Stoke have seen so little of the ball that the home side deserve the favourites tag. Liverpool have played a lot of brilliant, intricate passes and dribbles but - much to their fans' frustration - they have offered no end product this afternoon. Will we see Craig Bellamy or Andy Carroll brought on after the break in the hope they can change the host's fortunes?
So, is this match heading for a draw? And is that so much of a surprise? On paper Liverpool may have looked the favourites before the game, and they certainly have been the more dominant of the teams today. But the sides are only two places apart in the Premier League table, plus it is Stoke - not the Reds - who are playing European football this season.
45' + 1'
So 0-0 between Liverpool and Stoke City as the referee blows his whistle for half-time. One or two boos ring out at Anfield as the home side have failed to break down the resilient Potters. Tony Pulis will be happy with his visiting side who have kept the Reds at bay, but he will be wary that Kenny Dalglish is likely to send his team back out for the final 45 minutes with plenty of attacking intent.
One minute of stoppage time to play at Anfield.
I wish I could bring you news of a nail-biting chance for either side but the story continues to be that both sides have defended excellently. Glen Johnson, playing as right wing-back for Liverpool today in a five-man back-four, puts a low cross into the box but there is no team-mate to pounce.
Excellent vision from Adam to set Enrique free deep in the Stoke half but the Spaniard's first touch is a tad too heavy and the ball teeters out of play for a goal-kick to the visitors.
Stoke have a rare venture into the home team's territory but, despite Walter's tenacious chasing of the ball, Liverpool manage to return the ball back to the Potters' half.
Henderson takes control about 35-yards from goal, nutmegs one Stoke man and then shoots with his left foot goalwards but his effort is held by Thomas Sorensen.
Palacios, the former Spurs defensive midfielder, knowingly rises from the ground after bringing down Jose Enrique 30-yards out in the middle of the pitch. Gerrad steps over the ball but his low cross is scuffed clear eventually by the Staffordshire side.
Stewart Downing picks up the ball on the halfway-line, turns towards the Stoke goal, sprinting away from his marker Whelan before firing a foot or so over Sorensen's head. A neat effort from the England international and the home side need more of that urgency if they are to have the lead come half-time.
Another set piece, another Stoke clearance. The Potters are impeccably drilled in defending their free-kicks and corners, and Liverpool still have not threatened in the numerous dead balls they have had.
Yellow Card Ryan Shawcross
It is Ryan Shawcross' turn to impersonate an out-of-control automobile this time, plowing into Adam 40-yards out on the Liverpool left and rapidly earning a yellow card for his challenge.
Whoa Miles, hold your horses! Martin Skrtel slides a beautiful cross in from the top-fight edge of the Stoke box but the ball just evades the charging Charlie Adam and dribbles wide of Sorensen's right-post for a goal-kick to the Potters.
Liverpool have had 68-per-cent possession so far but I can safely say have done diddly-squat with it. Stoke (or more specifically Matthew Etherington) have had the two best half-chances.
I still have not decided what formation Dalglish has gone for but Kuyt is definitely playing further up the field than any other Red in the middle of the park. Stoke counter-attack after Henderson gives the ball away on the edge of the away side's box - Etherington dribbling from the centre circle to 25-yards out before shooting straight at Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Woodgate does his best impression of a motorbike by driving his tackle into Stewart Downing; Charlie Adam's curled ball into the box is hoofed away from danger by the Potters. Tony Pulis' men really have dealt well with set pieces with 21 minutes on the clock.
Intricacy is clearer a buzz word for Liverpool and their manager Kenny Dalglish, but although the Reds are playing with a bucketload of it there is not enough clinical passing so far and Stoke to their credit have kept the more dominant side from fashioning an obvious opportunity.
An unfamiliar face in the Liverpool back-line, Sebatian Coates, maraudes down the middle at Anfield and successfully wins a corner for the hosts. The cross by Steven Gerrad is easily claimed by Sorensen and thrown back into the midfield by the Danish keeper swiftly.
Having commentated on many LIVE! texts for Goal.com at Anfield this season I can safely say I am not surprised by this slow start. In previous matches the game kicks into fourth gear at around the 30 minute mark. Will it become an entertainment feast sooner than that, or will it (hopefully not) take longer?
Kuyt gets in down the right flank after Glenn Whelan gives the ball away for Stoke City bu the Netherlands internationals is without a clear option and has to settle for a corner. The whipped cross is cleared well by the Potters.
Jose Enrique whips an inch-perfect to Charlie Adam from the left-back position but the Scot is tackled on the slide by Wilson Palacios, who makes amends for losing track of the former Blackpool midfielder seconds before.
Jordan Henderson's fancy flick to Dirk Kuyt facing away from goal on the edge of the Stoke area comes to nothing when the Dutch forward fails to control the ball. The Reds are in control of possession nine minutes into this game, unquestionably.
The last game Howard Webb officiated at Anfield was the home side's last loss at the ground, towards the end of the 2010-11 season against Tottenham. Play is in a little bit of a lull at the moment but there is evidence this game could kick into action soon - Liverpool areattempting one or two incisive passes but to no avail yet.
Jonathan Walters sneaks in behind the hosts back-line and heads back to the edge of the penalty area for Matthew Etherington put his shot is wide left of the beckoning Liverpool goal. Stoke with the firstc chance of the day then.
Reds centre-back Martin Skrtel is having a little writhe after landing badly on his left arm in the aftermath of a winning header around the halfway line. No action of note to tell just yet boys and girls but watch this space.
Referee Howard Webb gets the game underway with Dalglish's Liverpool takeing the centre-kick.
Liverpool in their recognisable red kit; Stoke City are in their blue and black vertically-striped tops. Game is literally seconds from kick-off!
The game will be getting underway in a less than five minutes now. How do you see the game panning out? Can Dalglish’s sixth-placed team sweep aside Pulis’ hardy, physical bunch? Or will Liverpool’s mediocre home form in the league continue to haunt them into 2012? Leave your thoughts and comments below or, if you fancy, message me at www.twitter.com@Miles_Chambers!
One Premier League win in their last four matches hardly looks good on paper but Liverpool have won their last two games – a 5-1 victory at home to Oldham in the FA Cup and a 1-0 triumph away to Manchester in the first-leg of their League Cup semi-final. Stoke, on the other hand, hyave won three of their last four away league matches and manager Tony Pulis will be firing them up in the Anfield dressing room as I type no doubt.
Six clubs have managed to hold the Reds to a draw at Anfield this season in the league and manager Kenny Dalglish will be adamant that his players stop dropping points at home. The Scottish coach has blamed extraordinary goalkeeping performances for the Reds’ inability to finish teams off but he will know how that excuse will not hold well with fans for long. Newly promoted sides Norwich City and Swansea City were among those who took a point from Merseyside in 2011 but Stoke are no top flight noobs – the Potters are sitting eighth in the table and will be eager to cause an upset this Saturday afternoon.
Stoke have made two changes to their last Premier League starting eleven: Dean Whitehead and Ryan Shotton are dropped for Wilson Palacios and Jonathan Woodgate respectively. Up front Jonathan Walters starts up front with former Liverpool forward Peter Crouch. Tony Pulis has opted for a more simple formation by the looks of things with an orthodox 4-4-2 but he will need to be wary of the Reds’ effective counter-attacks at home. Thomas Sorensen continues to keep Asmir Begovic out of the first team in goal for the Potters.
An interesting line-up then for the Reds who start with what looks on paper to be either a 5-4-1 or a 5-2-3; either way it is an uncommon choice by manager Kenny Dalglish. Jay Spearing misses the match with a hamstring injury and Charlie Adam moves into midfield as his replacement. Left-back Jose Enrique also returns to the first-team after being dropped for the 1-0 Manchester City win midweek for tactical reasons. Centre-backs Sebastian Coates and Jamie Carragher have muscled their way into the line-up. Striker Andy Carroll will attract the most attention from the media because the £35 million man he has been dropped to the bench for the Anfield clash, despite first-choice striker Luis Suarez continuing to be unavailable because of the eight-match suspension he is serving.
Stoke City starting XI: Sorensen; Huth, Shawcross, Woodgate, Wilson; Delap, Whelan, Palacios, Etherington; Walters, Crouch. Subs: Begovic, Wilkinson, Whitehead, Pennant, Fuller, Jerome, Jones.
Liverpool starting XI: Reina; Johnson, Coates, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique; Henderson, Gerrard, Adam, Downing; Kuyt. Subs: Doni, Aurelio, Kelly, Bellamy, Flanagan, Shelvey, Carroll.
Welcome to Goal.com’s LIVE! commentary of Liverpool against Stoke City. I, Miles Chambers, will be bringing you every important morsel that this game has to offer so stick around and I will get the line-ups and pre-game details posted right away.
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