Oh boy, that was waaaayyyyy closer than it should have been. The match was quite bipolar, started frantic, calmed a bit before Sturridge scored and then it was just a roller coaster ride. There was a lot of good to take away from this game. Liverpool held strong against another unbelievable performance from a visiting keeper and controlled the match for the most part from start to finish, only allowing chances on the counter. While they still looked a little vulnerable there, they did enough to hold off Stoke. What we also saw was a fantastic show of togetherness, from the celebrations following the save to Coutinho standing up (or looking up at) Nzonzi and the rest of the team rushing in this team appears to be clicking. Aspas got the assist on the first goal and guite unlucky not to get at least one goal.
Overall towards the end this match had all the feel of the matches of last year, where Liverpool dominated possession, dominated shots, dominated the game and walked away with one point or less. Showing they have the ability to grind these out and hold strong will be vital towards their progress. Obviously it is preferable that they not put themselves in this predicament by banging 3 off the woodwork, but it is a good sign.
Some quick thoughts:
-WTF was Agger doing? It is completely inexplicable. Has he been taking karate or something? I'm not even quite sure why he would be in that pose in the first place.
-Mingolet was celebrating the second save before he even hit the ground, awesome. While shaky initially, he settled in and pulled of the brilliant double save on the PK and had a good one at full stretch earlier.
-Coutinho looked good, but was guilty a bit too often for my liking of trying to do too much
-This is they type of game Liverpool always drew or lost last season. Being able to win these will be the way forward.
-Henderson, quiet in the first, but turned it on late and was harshly denied by the post. His tracking back and tireless effort was key to snuffing out many of Stokes quick counters.
-Johnson was still a little clumsy/wasteful. He got forward well, but I'm still waiting for the Johnson of 9 months ago to show back up.
-Great result, on to the Mickey Mouse Cup Wednesday. Savor being top of the league for all of 2 hours, it probably won't last too long.