Stoke overcame Liverpool 1-0 at the Brittania Stadium today thanks to a Jonathan Walters penalty in the first half.
The travelling Reds had the better chances but it was Stoke who were able to put the ball in the back of the net when Jamie Carragher was adjudged to have brought down Walters in the box and the Stoke striker made no mistake from 12 yards out in the 21st minute.
It was Liverpool who had the better of the play before Stoke’s goal, with shots from Luis Suarez, Dirk Kuyt and Stewart Downing all failing to trouble Begovic in the Stoke goal.
Stoke did come close to what looked like a penalty in the 10th minute when Shawcross appeared to have his shirt held by Martin Skrtel in the Liverpool box but the referee missed it.
The home team were also fortunate to get away with a penalty themselves two minutes later when the ball came off Danny Higginbotham’s hand in the Stoke box but the referee again seemed to not see it.
Despite making a relatively good start with neat passing and several goal-scoring chances, Liverpool were eventually frustrated by the tactics of Stoke who pressed them in midfield and allowed the visitors’ ball players no time on the ball.
This led to over hit passes from Liverpool’s half to Luis Suarez, which the Uruguayan didn’t seem too impressed with as he wasn’t able to make much of them.
One of Liverpool’s best chances of the game came in the second half in the 60th minute when they countered from a Stoke free kick and Jordan Henderson ended up one-on-one with Begovic at the edge of his area.
Henderson’s first effort was extremely poor as he hit the ball low and straight at Begovic but the ball came back to him twice after his shots were blocked by the Bosnian keeper.
Henderson was eventually closed down by the Stoke defence and layed the ball off to Adam who had similar misfortune of firing the ball at either a defender or the keeper with his two efforts on goal.
Stoke escaped that particular passage of play with some good keeping/defending as well as bit of luck but Liverpool kept knocking at the door.
The Reds looked a bit livelier when Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll were introduced in the 67th minute but their combined efforts could still not penetrate the Stoke defence, despite Suarez and Bellamy linking up well on one occasion.
Liverpool’s best chance by far however, came in the last minute of the stoppage time when the otherwise impressive Begovic failed to hold onto a cross and the ball dropped to the feet of Luis Suarez.
With the goal gaping in front of him, the Liverpool number 7 put his shot wide of the post with a terrible miss from a chance to salvage a point from a disappointing game.
Stoke is a difficult place to come and the home team defended well and pressurised Liverpool for most of the game but Liverpool lacked patience and poise in midfield to counter Stoke’s urgency.
Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson in particular had poor games as both squandered chances and over hit passes or crosses and it seems Kenny still has a more work to do before Liverpool are the finished article.
Hit F5 or refresh for updates
Stoke City 1-0 Liverpool
Full time: The game ends and Liverpool come away with nothing as Stoke City keep their undefeated streak for the start of the season going. Liverpool struggled to break the Stoke rearguard down and found it hard find space in midfield as Stoke did well to close them down. Stoke didn’t have many chances and once they got their goal, they were happy to sit on their lead.
90min+4 Unbelievable chance for Liverpool as Begovic drops an attempted cross to the feet of Luis Suarez who puts his shot wide.
90min: More shouts for handball as Upson looks to have blocked Suarez’s shot with his arm but the referee just gives the corner. Suarez is booked for his protests. Nothing comes from the corner.
88min: Downing crosses from the right to Bellamy whose header goes wide. It’s all Liverpool now.
87min: Andy Carroll has a shot blocked by a host of Stoke bodies and Liverpool shout for a handball but nothing is given.
84min: Jones’ cross to Crouch is blocked by Carragher and Liverpool break. Downing crosses to Suarez but Shawcross clears. Downing then has a chance from the short corner but the winger blasts wide.
81min: Danny Agger is fouled by Andy Wilkinson. The Danish centre back then ballonns a shot over the bar.
79min: Suarez shoots wide but the ref says corner. Nothing comes from the corner but a cross from the right is troubling for the Stoke keeper who does well to punch it away.
78min: The corner is taken and comes to nothing.
76min: Liverpool are testing Stoke now and Carroll’s knock-down header is nearly met by Suarez but Shawcross gets in the way. Upson is receiving attention as Liverpool wait to take a corner.
74min: Great play between Bellamy and Suarez as they one-two the ball into the Stoke box but once again Suarez’ shot is blocked and Begovic collects.
73min: Charlie Adam over hits a pass to Craig Bellamy and wastes possession. He has not had the best game today.
71min: Wilson Palacios comes on for Stoke as Delap makes way.
70min: Enrique sends a great cross from the left to find Downing at the back post but his header is easily saved by Begovic.
69min: Good play from Stoke as Pennant finds Crouch just outside the box but the Stoke striker’s effort is weak and Reina collects.
67min: Andy Carroll and Craig Bellamy come on for Henderson and Kuyt. Stoke also bring on Kenwyne Jones for Etherington.
64min: Henderson sends a terrible effort high and wide. Stoke bring on Andy Wilkinson for Robert Huth.
61min: Pennant can’t find Crouch and Liverpool break. Henderson has a great chance to equalise as he’s one on one with Begovic but the keeper saves and then saves the rebound. Henderson has a third chance but a Stoke player blocks the ball which falls to Charlie Adam whose shot is also blocked and so is the rebound. Liverpool’s best chances by a mile there.
60min: Jordan Henderson gives away a free in a dangerous position. Pennant will whip this one in.
57min: Suarez tries to do it all himself by cutting inside the box from the right wing but there are too many Stoke defenders in his way. Charlie Adam then gives away a free kick.
53min: Better play from Liverpool as Downing receives the ball on the right of Stoke’s box and lays it off for Adam who wins a corner when his shot is blocked. Stoke defend the corner well however and it’s back to square on for Liverpool.
50min: Liverpool are enjoying most of the possession but it’s all in front of Stoke and they can’t penetrate their defence.
48min: Good play by Delap by down the right wing as his cross finds Walters but the Irish international is well marshalled by Daniel Agger.
46min: We’re back underway at the Britannia for the second half. No changes have been made by either manager.
Half time: The referee ends the first 45 and Stoke will be very happy with that half. They scored a goal and have frustrated Liverpool, who will need to up their performance in the second half if they want anything from this game.
45min+1: Liverpool have another free kick but Etherington clears.
45min: Chance here for Liverpool as Delap fouls Suarez on the right of Stoke’s box. Charlie Adam wastes the opportunity with an over hit cross.
44min: Walters wins a corner and Etherington finds Shawcross with his delivery but the Stoke captain’s effort goes over.
42min: Suarez manages to find himself a half yard of space in the Stoke box and gets his shot away but Begovic saves. It was a difficult angle to score from but the Uruguayan did well to find the space.
41min: Good low cross into Kuyt in the box by Enrique but the Dutch striker isn’t quick enough to do anything with it.
39min: Enrique is penalised for handling the ball and makes a show of himself as he remonstrates with the ref. He was lucky to escape a yellow card there.
37min: Matthew Etherington is receiving attention after his challenge on Skrtel and play is stopped.
36min: Good play from Suarez as he turns his marker on the left side of Stoke’s box and plays the ball square but Skrtel is the only player who can get on the end of it as he arrives late with a shot that goes high over the bar.
35min: A Delap long throw causes some problems in Liverpool’s box but Whitehead can’t make anything of it and Liverpool clear.
33min: Stoke waste a free kick as Reina catches Pennant’s cross.
32min: Not a bad passage of play for Liverpool as the pass the ball down the right wing well but Stoke still stand strong and nothing comes from it.
29min: Not much is happening as Stoke are happy to frustrate Liverpool and give them no time to pass. Suarez wins a corner but the delivery by Adam isn’t good and Begovic catches it.
25min: Charlie Adam shoots from inside his own half but it’s a terrible effort and rolls to Begovic in the Stoke box.
24min: Liverpool are finding it hard to keep the ball on the ground. Suarez gets a chance from a cross but once again the Stoke defence, Shawcross this time, is at hand to block his effort.
21min: Jonathan Walters makes no mistake from the spot and absolutely blasts his shot straight down the middle as Reina guesses the wrong way. 1-0 to Stoke.
20min: Walters makes his way into the Liverpool box and Carragher fouls him and the ref points to hte spot. Penalty to Stoke.
18min: Stewart Downing cuts inside from the left but his shot is weak and off target.
17min: Dirk Kuyt plays has a shooting chance but he takes to long to pull the trigger and his shot is blocked.
16min: Stoke can’t get the ball off Liverpool but the home team are still not giving Liverpool much room to pass it around and frustrating the visitors as a result.
12min: Great interplay by Liverpool down the right that results in Suarez trying to cut inside but his effort is cleared by a Stoke defender. Higginbotham then looks to have handled the ball in the box but the referee doesn’t blow.
10min: Skrtel blocks Shawcross’ header from the free but it looked like he had a strong hold on the Stoke player’s shirt. It could have been given but the Slovakian defender gets away with it.
8min: Charlie Adam is late with a challenge on Dean Whitehead and Stoke will have a chance from this set piece. Skrtel then fouls Peter Crouch and Stoke have an even better chance from much closer, just outside Liverpool’s box.
6min: Lucas threads a fine ball down the left to Stewart Downing but the England winger can’t find anyone in the box. Enrique then gets a chance from the same area but Stoke clear it. Bright start by Liverpool.
4min: Suarez puts pressure on Shawcross who gives away a corner and then has a chance from the corner but can’t get anything on it.
2min: Suarez hits a shot from just outside Stoke’s box but it goes over. Not a bad effort.
0min played: We’re underway at the Britannia and Crouch has already fouled Carragher from a set piece.
Stoke City will host Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium this Saturday with both teams remaining undefeated since the start of the season.
After holding Andres Villas-Boas’ new look Chelsea side to a draw at home and being accused by the new manager of “pushing and grabbing” that was “out of this world”, Stoke followed that match up with a draw against newly-promoted Norwich and a 1-0 win away at West Brom.
Tony Pulis has also been one of the busiest managers in the Premier League in the transfer window on deadline day after securing the signatures of Birmingham’s Cameron Jerome and Tottenham’s Peter Crouch.
Having let go of the likes of Abdoulaye Faye to West Ham and Ibrahima Sonko on a free transfer, Pulis has taken a risk on the injury prone Jonathon Woodgate and also signed up Matthew Upson from West Ham.
The purchase of Crouch and Jerome, two big centre forwards not renowned for their goalscoring ability, show the intent of Pulis’ teams’ style for the season; a style Liverpool have yet to come up against this season.
While Bolton are well-known for putting in a tough physical game, Owen Coyle has slowly introduced more of a passing style to the Trotters but Liverpool made short work of them before the international break.
They finished what they started against Sunderland when they played Bolton off the park in their last fixture, with Luis Suarez looking particularly brilliant and at the heart of most of Liverpool’s good play.
But it wasn’t just Suarez who impressed in that game; the two English midfielders Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson were in fine form with the latter contributing with a beautiful curling goal.
It will be interesting to see how Liverpool’s newcomers fair against the physicality of Stoke, who won’t give them as much time on the ball as they enjoyed against Bolton, and the back line will have to hold strong with the aerial threat from their former striker Peter Crouch.
Liverpool will also be able to call on one of their own former strikers as Craig Bellamy’s acquisition on the last day of the transfer window gives them another option in attack.
The Welsh forward spent last season on loan at Cardiff from Manchester City so the Dalglish’s move for him came as somewhat of a surprise but the legendary Anfield manager still believes Bellamy has something to offer.