Liverpool Player Ratings v Stoke

Whew, thank God that is over. - Bryn Lennon

This is the game that makes me cringe more than any other on the schedule. Not because they are good, or even rivals, but because you know you are in for a WWE style cage match and just have to hope everyone escapes uninjured. Luckily, there appear to be no injuries; I'll sacrifice the three points for that in this thin squad.

As usual, you don't go to Stoke unless you have your soap on a rope. This was just a brutal game to watch, but it is exactly what everyone probably feared and expected.

Ok, so did any of you have money that it would be Howard Webb to give Liverpool their first penalty in well over 30 matches? If so, your head is gone and you should probably appoint someone as your caretaker to look after your finances and health.

STARTERS:

Reina - 7 - Looked like the Reina of old with some brilliant saves. A smart tip over from a shot by Etherington and he did really well to bail himself out after a poor clearance. His defense completely let him down and there was nothing he could do about any of the goals.

Enrique - 6 - Overall seemed to maintain the same form he has come into. I guess his fiance must be good about getting up with the baby at night. Provided decent width, but more importantly he defended well.

Agger - 4 - He appears to have had some role to play in all the Stoke goals. The first one was unfortunate, but the others there is sime blame that can be laid at his feet. Which brings us to....

Skrtel - 5 - An abysmal game for both central defenders, the only reason he gets a 5 was that it was his ball which sprung Suarez for the penalty. He actually was ok for much of the game, but had some crucial errors which played a part in the first and third goals.

Johnson - 6 - No real attacking threat other than a few sporadic runs, but did defend decently. All of Stokes play seemed to come down the middle of the pitch.

Downing - 6 - Was all over the place, for a while I thought we had signed Maxi. Had one great move, but his pull back to Gerrard was bouncy and Gerrard shot it just wide. Overall though it is promissing for what he could offer in future games this season (and possibly resale value).

Lucas - 5 - Let's keep it simple, he seemed overrun and out of shape.

Gerrard - 6 - Calmly dispatched the penalty, something Liverpool struggled with mightily last season. Had a couple of other decent efforts, one on a bouncing ball from Downing, the other a decent curling chance from distance that forced a good save, even if it was a bit overly flashy. However, like most of the midfield he struggled to contain Stoke's directness. Also, left the post on Jones' header which ultimately would have easily been cleared had he stayed.

Suso - 5 - Why would we play our most slight, frail looking player in a match against Stoke? Started brightly, but then struggled mightily to maintain that positive start. Rightly subbed at halftime.

Shelvey - 5 - Wasted a beautiful chance from Lucas with a very heavy touch. He still just does not seem up for the role Rodgers has been forced to play him in due to lack of squad depth.

Suarez - 6 - He was dangerous all game and did quite well to win the penalty. However, it is another case of chances wasted. Imagine where Liverpool would be if he was a clinical finisher. Nevermind, don't do that; it is too depressing.

SUBS:

Sterling - 6 - Lively, I'm not sure why he didn't start in place of Suso after being rested the game before. A small speedy guy is just what Stoke should hate since they tip over easily. Did very well shortly after the half to run to the goal line and cut to Suarez which he scuffed off the post.

Henderson - 5 - Added very little to the match.

Cole - 6 - Tried hard, but really didn't have a ton of time to influence the game.

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