Man of the match: Raheem Sterling
Moment of the match: Charlie Adam unleashes an exocet past Mignolet.
Moan of the match: Liverpool’s defence goes AWOL again.
I can’t remember the last time we went to Stoke and came away with all three points. Usually the Reds just get kicked off the park and sent packing with their tails between their legs for daring to try and play football.
This was a thrilling game and it’s plain for all to see that Mark Hughes has already had a big impact on the style of football being played here. Unfortunately he came up against two of the in-form premier league strikers and a team that suddenly has lady luck on their side – the first goal took a wicked deflection off Shawcross to beat stand in keeper Butland – who had a torrid day at the office and generally Liverpool got the rub of the green today.
Luis Suarez was once again the scourge of the opposition defence and like a terrier with a bone or one of those tug ropes he just won’t let it go, panicking the Stoke defence into an error for his first goal and sublimely curling a low shot into the far corner for his second. For as long as Suarez continues to finish as well as this Liverpool have a good chance of making the Champions League places next season.
Raheem Sterling continues to improve and it is noticeable that he has worked hard both on the physical aspect of the game and on his decision making. Not giving up the ball so easily and holding it up better has given more edge to the attacking play. I’m giving Sterling man of the match for this performance because giving it to Suarez every match is no incentive for those progressing so well!
The issue to be addressed now is in defence.
Skrtel has started to become a penalty waiting to happen with his constant shirt pulling and Cissokho is not making the impact at left back that someone like Flanagan has done this season. That says a lot for the teenager who has come up through the ranks and getting Sakho, Kelly and Flanagan back off the treatment table will help to rectify the deficiencies.
But let’s not take away from a fine performance here and scoring five goals at the cathedral of anti-football is not to be sniffed at. In fact this is the first time Liverpool has won at Stoke since the premier league began so that tells you how far Liverpool have improved under Brendan Rodgers.
The Reds have a comparatively easier fixture list in the second half of the season with seven of the next nine teams they face in the bottom half of the table so can we look forward to progress being maintained?
The return of Sturridge says yes it can. A fantastic reverse pass that put Suarez in for his second shows he has lost none of his spark and don’t forget that Liverpool managed without Suarez during his early season ban so an injury won’t be the end of the world for Liverpool.