It's amazing how any match against Stoke turns out to be the same. You barely remember any of the stop-start, stodgy, tepid, tough, agricultural action of any of it except for the moments that turn the game. I remember the three goals, what led up to them, but here we just a couple hours after in concluded and the rest is lost in a haze and mash of fouls, free kicks, throw ins, broken moves, and hoofed clearances. That's the way Stoke want it, that's usually the way they get it. It's just a matter of if you can survive and do just enough to get on through. Liverpool did today, and it's another trip to Wembley, were either Everton or Sunderland could await.
Most encouraging, Liverpool won a dogfight. They weren't bright or crackling as they were against Everton, and generally that's always meant a frustrating draw. Today, it got a win and that's been all too rare. Better yet, it was down to some ruthlessness in front of net, Liverpool didn't create a boatload of chances to blow, that were a result of just stand-alone moments of brilliance. That's what's supposed to separate the good teams from the rabble on days when the game gets dragged down to the lower level. It's what's kept the Reds from emerging from the muck. If only this could be duplicated enough in time to save the league season.
-As I said on Twitter, I hate the inverted winger system. Of course, it led to both goals, with Maxi cutting in to combine with Suarez for the opener and Downing cutting in to combine with Gerrard (maybe intentionally) for the closer. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then. With Stoke as packed in as they were, and Kelly and Enrique not getting as forward as much, the lack of width at time stunted Liverpool. But it got them where they're going.
Funny, for all my complaints about Maxi, he might be the only player in the squad cut out for the middle "2" of a 4-2-2-2. Henderson needs to be in the middle, Downing is better when out wide, and Kuyt is ....Kuyt. But Maxi does his best when running in between the lines from the wing, and that's what his formation calls for. Still would rather see a 4-3-3, but I'll be shouting that into the wind for a long time, methinks.
-So whoever the color guy on FSC was, and I don't think I need to know his name, Charlie Adam's had a good season, Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll have been utterly useless, and Suarez is a cheap cheap diver even though he was getting kicked all over the park. Are they not required to watch at least one match from both teams they're about to cover?
-I'm getting real sick of the constant harping on Suarez's theatrics by the press. He put on a wonderful performance today, and his antics really aren't egregiously worse than a dozen other strikers in the league (rhymes with "Fogba"). He's getting back to his lethal best after a year from hell, admittedly a lot brought on by himself, and that should be the story.
-Sorry, midfield just looks so much smoother without the ugly Scot.
-I know most though Reina overplayed being fouled for Stoke's goal, but when a player brackets the goalie with his arms instead of just stands still, that's still holding. You can't do that, and we've seen it called on Kuyt at least 286 times in his Liverpool career.
-Not that the rest of the refereeing was any better.
-Whatever, it's two steps away from another trophy. Could be way worse.