Liverpool 0-0 Stoke report - 'Un-Klopp like performance'

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Liverpool and Stoke produced a fairly subdued game that was defined by one untimely miss from Mo Salah and a clear penalty not given when Erik Pieters handballed late on.

28th Apr 2018

A point apiece doesn’t really do either team any favours, but at least Liverpool had a decent excuse for having their minds elsewhere.

Stoke can join the Baggies

There was an audible cheer from the away fans when the final whistle went, but I wonder how the Potters’ supporters will feel come the end of the season?

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Stoke will surely get relegated and, therefore, their gameplan for this fixture at Anfield was utterly bemusing.

They desperately needed a win, so Paul Lambert’s tactical ‘masterclass’ was a waste of time and something they’ll surely regret in the weeks to come.

Of course, the Reds want Stoke to come at them and attack. And, of course, Stoke are well within their rights to approach this fixture in any way they like. However, the reality is that they did nothing to try and claim the victory.

And just like West Brom, a point is surely not enough in their predicament. If Stoke stay up by a point then fair enough, but it’s unlikely.

Liverpool's eyes were on Rome

It wasn’t just the unfamiliar faces of Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Moreno, Nathaniel Clyne and Danny Ings that spoke volumes. It was also the tentative approach of the Reds.

This was a very un-Klopp-like performance. It was slow, ponderous and totally devoid of any creative attacking play.

Every player was probably trying to save energy and avoid an injury ahead of Wednesday’s second leg - and it showed.

In the Premier League, you need to be at full throttle every week, but this was a most unwelcome distraction. Passing, pace, shooting... everything was off today.

The Reds have come a long way

It says a lot that Anfield will be incredibly disappointed with this result. We played poorly and fans expect us to roll over teams like Stoke nowadays, especially at home.

But the midweek jaunt to Italy will be huge compensation for dragging on our qualification for next year’s Champions League. 

When Brendan Rodgers was in the Liverpool hot seat, he rested several first-team players in an away Champions League game at Real Madrid. Rodgers was focusing on a league game with Chelsea the following Saturday which was pivotal in our bid to regain our place in the top four.

The net result? We lost both games anyway.

And it always seems quite sad (and a bit pathetic if I’m honest) to be willing to sacrifice a game in a tournament in an effort to qualify for exactly the same tournament which doesn’t even start until the following season.

We’ve got our priorities straight. We spent long enough struggling to get into the top four last season, so it makes sense to make the most of our opportunity whilst we’re in it. If that makes our league campaign a little more lacklustre, then so be it.

Of course, this point does make the away game at Stamford Bridge a little more interesting. But we should be okay. I hope.

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