Liverpool Player Ratings v. Stoke

It's funny because it's Stephen Ireland - Clive Mason

Eight goals were scored at the Britannia, which nobody could have expected. Despite the unneeded emotional adventure, Liverpool wound up with all three points.

STARTING XI

Mignolet - 7 - Stoke's third goal was a soft one, and even though it went through Skrtel, Mignolet should have done more. On the flip side, Mignolet made a few outstanding reflex saves, bailing out a shocking defensive unit from conceding four or five.

Johnson - 5 - I saw a subtle improvement in ball control from Johnson, although he remains far off what is expected of him.

Toure - 5 - As Matt pointed out in TT, Toure was destined for failure against Peter Crouch. The Ivorian was terrorized in the air by Crouch, and simply was on the wrong end of a bad match up.

Skrtel - 4 - Anytime a goal flies through a defender's legs, especially when said defender purposelessly backtracks with no intention to stop the ball, a poor rating is forthcoming. Skrtel has not been very good lately, and this is the second time his pairing with Toure has been poor.

Cissokho - 6 - Many fans will vehemently disagree, but I think that Cissokho has gotten much better lately. Sure, he still tires too easily and is one of the least rounded players the club has seen in some time, but what he does do -- burst down the left flank and cross -- he's been doing well. Against Stoke, he even showed some spatial awareness defensively, which was unheard of a few weeks ago.

Gerrard - 7 - Gerrard gets a generous seven because of his penalty goal, but in reality he was more mediocre than good in his deep midfield role. It's nice to see him back on the pitch, and his defensive positioning makes him more versatile if developed properly.

Lucas - 5 - The sight of Lucas pushing forward into the box was not a pleasant one. The Brazilian midfielder could not replicate his Europa League goal years ago when he chipped the goalkeeper, and he seemed out of his element.

Henderson - 5 - Henderson passed it backwards to Charlie Adam, who lasered the ball into the net and brought Stoke roaring back into the game. Yes, there were others who could have and should have impeded Adam's shot, but the initial mistake was a bad one for Hendo. Besides the back pass, he mostly descended into his old cloak of anonymity. In fairness, he's being worked harder than perhaps any other midfielder in England, so the occasional off day will happen.

Coutinho - 6 - Coutinho needs to start finishing his chances to achieve the star status most fans thrust upon him before the season. His movement is world class, and so is his distribution at times. But again in the Stoke match we saw that wasteful finishing is holding him back.

Sterling - 8 - Sterling terrorized Stoke for much of the match, constantly threatening both with and without the ball. The penalty win was tangible confirmation of a dominating performance. A word that many have used to describe Sterling's recent play is hungry, and I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. He chases down every ball and does the little things that you rarely see from such a young player.

Suarez - 8 - This wasn't even close to Suarez at his best, which is scary to think about. Nonetheless, Suarez cruised to another two goal display.

SUBS

Sturridge - 8 - The mood dramatically changed when Sturridge came on. He immediately restarted his deadly combination with Suarez, providing the Uruguayan a through ball which was curled into the net. Then, he received a ball from Suarez, and after some nifty juggling, scored a goal of his own. I like impact subs, and with the addition of Sturridge as another competent attacking threat, we'll always have at least one in the waiting.

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