Reds Net 5 To Take Back 4th
It was an eight goal thriller at the Britannia on Sunday as both sets of fans were treated to an end to end game in a thoroughly exciting football match. There were points of frustration for Liverpool who perhaps could have avoided some of their mistakes but the general consensus is that in years gone by, the Reds would never have fought on to win that game.
Some early Liverpool pressure meant the game swung their way in less than five minutes after a somewhat fortunate goal. Sterling's pass which he appeared to mess up eventually reached Aly Cissokho on the left of the box, his strike had power but it wasn't on target. Ryan Shawcross however managed to get in the way of the effort and turned the ball into his own net.
The following portion of the game consisted of chances for both sides with Liverpool perhaps getting the more feasible attempts. However neither side had scored and we'd have to wait until 30 minutes for a change in the scoreline.
A lurking Luis Suarez was praying on the Stoke defence the whole game but this time he'd anticipated a mishap and was right to do so as a dodgy clearance from Shawcross and failed attempt to pressure Suarez from Butland left the Uruguayan with his chance which he converted easily from an angle.
Now two goals behind, Stoke were beginning to feel frustrated, they had been playing well of course and the fans were making it very clear that they wanted their side to continue to apply the pressure on Liverpool. Just seven minutes after Suarez's goal, Stoke got their wish.
A free kick from Arnoutovic found its way to Peter Crouch who had managed to easily break free from Kolo Toure's watchful eye. The ex Liverpool man then headed the ball home past Simon Mignolet and Liverpool were left wondering how they'd allowed that to happen.
The Britannia of course has always been a difficult place for us to visit and so it was perhaps only a matter of time before Stoke found a goal, that didn't mean Liverpool were suddenly going to be faced with a scrap for the three points though did it?
A Charlie Adam goal just four minutes later answered that question. A rare poor pass from Jordan Henderson allowed Stoke to intercept. Charlie Adam then recovered from a slip to place a brilliant strike from distance into the Liverpool goal. It was a cracking effort to be fair.
The second half couldn't have come sooner for the Reds as they were beginning to make silly mistakes and it wouldn't have taken much longer for Stoke to find another goal at that stage. A break was just what Liverpool required and they would again receive a bit of luck early in the second half.
Raheem Sterling got away with a hand ball and in the process managed to make a run being followed by Wilson into the box. At which point Wilson made a challenge on Sterling and a penalty was awarded. Stoke were definitely hard done by with the hand ball decision and Sterling perhaps shouldn't have even made it to the point of the penalty but soft or not, in my opinion it was a spot kick.
Steven Gerrard stepped up to take it and as always the captain finished cooly and calmly to put Liverpool back into the lead.
Shortly after the third Liverpool goal, the Reds put themselves in a bit of trouble when Aly Cissokho fouled Charlie Adam right on the edge of the box. The resulting free kick was dealt with well by the defence but it was clear that things were once again beginning to feel a bit edgy for Brendan Rodgers' side.
At 65 minutes Daniel Sturridge finally made his return to the starting XI replacing Philippe Coutinho. It took just five minutes for him to stamp his mark on the game.
Immediately reigniting his partnership with Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge with a confident run made a break and then slipped the ball to Suarez on his left, giving the Uruguayan just enough space to curl his effort around Butland from an angle and sweetly into the back of the Stoke net.
The SAS as they are constantly referred to then began to celebrate together in what was a simply brilliant scene for Liverpool fans who were reminded of what a prolific strike force they have. Sturridge would further instill this feeling later in the game too.
After Liverpool had put the game to 4-2, they still didn't feel safe and Stoke came back once again to set the nerves off. An effort from Walters forced Mignolet into a great save but shortly afterwards our keeper was left red faced when he allowed another Walters shot to go underneath his body. I'm not one for kicking a man when he's down but I don't feel as confident as I should in Mignolet at the moment, he's a cracking keeper, we all know this but sometimes you just think "catch the bloody ball!" he's not the only one that has been making mistakes though; see Liverpool defence.
Liverpool had come so far in this game and with 4th place riding on the outcome they couldn't afford to falter this late on. Thankfully, Daniel Sturridge decided he would quite like a goal in his first game back. After his initial effort was saved Sturridge then slipped, chested the ball, headed the ball and finally turned in his effort. He was assisted of course by that man Luis Suarez.
Despite Liverpool now being 5-3 up with just ten minutes to go, Stoke still weren't ready to give up. A header from Crouch hit the post and then Steven Gerrard nearly made things worse for Liverpool after nearly heading the ball into his own net, Mignolet saved well though.
Finally the final whistle was blown and Liverpool could walk away with all three points with a mixture of pride and frustration in their performance. As many have said it was brilliant in attack but somewhat lacking in defence for the Reds yesterday. The positive is though that for the time being all that matters is the points.
I asked you on Twitter for your thoughts on the game and here are a few on the responses:
Next up for the Reds is Aston Villa.