By Andy Perry
Liverpool 0-0 Stoke
Stoke City chose Saturday to come up with what is very likely their most unlikely point of the season after a 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield.
Goal-shy Stoke were just the same as they usually are in front of goal in a game which ironically they could have won had if not been for wasteful finishing.
But let’s not paint too much of a Rosey picture here, the Potters should have been a goal down right at the start of proceedings when Mohamed Salah went through on a one on one with Jack Butland but unbelievably, the man who can’t stop scoring somehow drifted his shot wide of the target with Butland well beaten.
And that set the tone for the afternoon, there is no doubt that Liverpool should have had Stoke wiped aside as just a minor inconvenience as the Reds strolled on. But the Scouse fans had already seen their heroes stretch themselves against Roma in midweek, but they should have beaten Stoke regardless.
The Champions League epic obviously took its toll out on Klopp’s men, but you have to give Paul Lambert praise for how he set up Stoke, they had a bit of a go at first but as the game went on the Scott masterminded Stoke into a frustration machine, Liverpool had few chances but for those that they did get, Lady Luck had decided that she was on Stokes side just for a change.
She seemed to know that Liverpool could let this game slip and still be in a prime position to finish in that top four spot that admittedly, they may not even need if they could lift the CL trophy.
But that is in the future, Saturday’s result belonged to Stoke who were playing at the place they drew 0-0 in the first season back in the top flight when Tony Pulis was in charge and a ten-year stay seemed unlikely.
Saturday’s result has lifted the most die-hard fans, they now believe that the Potters can pull off the two wins needed from the final two games to see an escape not seen since beating Wolves 4-0 back in 1984, the rest simply believe that draw specialist Paul Lambert will fall short of that sort of glory.
Erik Pieters, who has often been singled out for some stick in the past made sure that Liverpool’s goal machine Salah in his back pocket for the afternoon and of course Butland made fine saves to keep City in the game when he was called upon. When Liverpool did manage to get through, the referee was for once on the side of Lamberts’ men and ruled out Danny Ings goal, and rightly so.
Liverpool and their fans sussed that the only way they were going to get past a firm Stoke backline was by falling and appealing for penalties at every chance. This time, however, the referee was braver than those we have seen of late against the bigger clubs.
And luck was called upon once again to keep Martins Indi’s clearance from going into his own side’s net.
Mame Diouff missed his usual big chance when he was called upon, but this once we won’t hold things against him and when Ryan Shawcross found the side netting, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
After the game the Stoke fans made Anfield echo once more with Delilah, something that might not be heard at Anfield for a few seasons to come.