And you could see why:
When the bench could probably beat the starting eleven, that’s when you know there may have been something wrong going on. In the end however… well we will get into that later.
So the match began and with only 4 minutes on the clock, the Potters star-man Shaqiri blasted the ball into the back of the net, luckily it was offside and a lucky escape for the reds, playing in black.
Chances were few and far between really in the first half but as the play progressed, teenager Ben Woodburn stole the ball from Cameron and shimmied off ex-red Joe Allen as he seemed to be through on goal only to be stopped by the big centre back, Bruno Martins Indi. A volley from Marco Anoutovic was probably the best chance for City at this point, causing no problems however for Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal and smashing into the side netting
The first real talking point came in the 43rd minute of the match from an attack from Liverpool, with Ben Woodburn being the trouble maker once more. Eric Pieters seemed to have, at first glance, illegally brought down the youngster in the penalty area but the referee shook his head an play resumed.
Shortly after the incident, the inevitable happened and Stoke City took the lead in the game through the boy-Evertonian, Jon Walters, with his fourth goal of the Premier league season and his second versus Liverpool. This came from a lovely cross from Shaqiri and dispatched nicely with his head at the front post by the man from Ireland, with some questionable defending from Joel Matip in particular, who seemed to turn his back on the incoming cross. Once again, a cross causing trouble for Liverpool.
Half time at the Bet 365 Stadium saw the two teenagers leave the field of play and replaced by the star men, Roberto Firmino and Phil Coutinho. Jurgen Klopp with a good substitution, although sparking the question of why they didn’t start the game amongst the Liverpool fans.
The game hit 52 minutes and along came a wonderful chance for Stoke to double their lead with Georginio Wijnaldum asking to concede a goal when he headed the ball back into the danger area where four players in red and white were standing to knock the ball home with a shot from Charlie Adam from what would only have been a couple of metres, incredibly saved by the outstretched left leg of the big Belgian in goal, a truly wonderful save but also a huge miss from Adam. This was a real scare for Liverpool.
The link between Coutinho and Firmino was beginning to be seen as the Brazilian wearing the number 10 fed the ball into the feet of Divock Origi who opened up some space but couldn’t quite find the bottom right corner of the goal. This was a good sign for Liverpool as the two men from South America seemed up for the task. A good save from Grant in the Stoke City net was made through a curling shot from Coutinho, made by some physical work from Clyne to shake Arnoutovic off of the ball, it was only a matter of time before another goal went in.
Another wave of attack came from Liverpool, this time through an unlikely source, Dejan Lovren rattling the crossbar with a powerful header from an in swinging corner from Coutinho.
At last! Liverpool grabbed an equalizing goal in a tie where Liverpool were bound to score soon and with his third goal in three consecutive games, Phillipe Coutinho sunk the ball into the bottom left hand corner. A really lovely finish from the little magician.
At this point of the fixture, Liverpool really did have all of the momentum, along with the fans cheering and singing for the reds to go and grab another. And boy didn’t they just…
A perfect ball over the top of the Stoke City defense from Wijnalum found Roberto Firmino un-marked and from some distance, he sumptuously whacked the ball into the back of the net, leaving Lee Grant in the Stoke City net with absolutely no chance. What a sublime goal from him as he celebrated in front of the elated travelling support, shirtless, once more.
The game was far from finished however, with Arnoutovic crossing the ball directly onto the right foot of Saido Berahino who had the easiest job in the world of simply just tapping the ball into the goal. What was to come next was quite possibly the best save of the season from a man who receives a lot of abuse for some poor performances that can cost us games. Mignolet leaped up into the air to block the shot from the man out of form, a seriously good save from the man who kept us in the game.
Time seemed to go much slower than usual for every Liverpool fan watching the game as the referee finally blew the full-time whistle and ended the nerves that were torturing Liverpool fans, players and especially Jurgen Klopp, who may have come under criticism for his initial team selection had his side not rescued a vital three points.
To conclude, a seriously special shout-out to Simon Mignolet who was outstanding throughout the match. As fans, we must give credit where it is due and Mignolet has earned some serious respect from the fans. He must keep up that form if he wants to solidify his position as the starting goalkeeper every week but Migs is definitely going in the correct direction. Credit to Firmino and Coutinho as a huge difference was made as they entered the game!
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