FA Premier League
09 August 2015 Kick Off 4pm
Stoke City V Liverpool At The Britannia Stadium, Stoke On Trent
The build up was dominated by the final game of last season where Stoke beat Liverpool by six goals to one. Could it happen again? Of course not, this was to be a much tighter affair.Liverpool had plenty of new men on show, much attention was on Benteke up front, but the two who proved to be more important were new full-back Nathanial Clyne and Joe Gomez. Clyne a big money but from Southampton, Gomez a quiet acquisition from Charlton, either way both played a key role.
Defenses dominated the first half. For Liverpool Benteke showed some nice touches early on but his movement was static at times enabling the Stoke defense to easily cut out attempted through balls.For Stoke, Afellay looked the most dangerous but Liverpool were noticeably solid with new man James Milner in midfield in the two new full backs appeared to be able to defend, while still push forward when appropriate, this allowed Skrtel and Lovren to concentrate on their own positions rather than in the past, having to cover for full back charging forward and getting caught.
Neither keeper was really tested in the first half. The best chance was Stoke’s when Jonathan Walters finally got the better of Joe Gomez out wide and crossed and after a scramble, Stoke’s own new man from Liverpool, Glen Johnson, scooped his chance from just the the penalty spot over the bar. Neither side had any further chances going into the half time break.
HALF TIME – Stoke City 0 Liverpool 0
Stoke started the second half well with Van Ginkel bringing a save from Mignolet almost straight away. The game then returned to stalemate. Diouf had the best chance from a Charlie Adam free kick with brought another save from Mignolet. Liverpool began to improve going forward after the introduction of Emre Can who brought some energy to the midfield and Liverpool began to dominate possession for the first time in the game.
The Merseysiders remained solid at the back with Clyne making a crucial interception from Diouf after another well delivered free kick from Adam. The back four dealy with the physical side of the game Stoke bring well and Skrtel and Lovren were having solid games, with Gomez and Clyne continuing to be outstanding. The magic that broke the deadlock came from Coutinho who had had a quiet game, but he managed to turn Glenn Whelan and hammered in a 25 yard finish to break the stalemate and give Liverpool the lead.
GOAL – 85 Minutes – Stoke City 0 LIVERPOOL 1 – Philippe Coutinho
From then on Liverpool headed to the corner to run down the clock. They brought on Brazilian newcomer Firmino for his first taste of Premier League action for the last few minutes but it was a piece of magic from the established Brazilian, along with an outstanding defensive performance, that won the day. Going forward more work is required. But if defense wins championships, maybe Liverpool will defy the critics and make a challenge after all this season.
MOON OF LIBERTY FINAL SCORE
Stoke City (0) 0 Liverpool (0) 1 (Coutinho 85)
MOON OF LIBERTY STAR MAN – Nathanial Clyne (Liverpool)