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Dublin: 4 °C Thursday 12 December, 2019


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Hello! And welcome to our coverage of this afternoon’s Premier League meeting of Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield.

Have you looked outside? What a stunningly sunny day for a game of ball!

First and foremost, let’s get started with the team news…

So, today’s teams are:

Liverpool: Karius, Gomez, van Dijk, Klavan, Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Moreno, Salah, Firmino, Ings.

Subs: Clyne, Lovren, Milner, Mignolet, Robertson, Solanke, Woodburn.

Stoke City: Butland, Zouma, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters, Shaqiri, Allen, Ndiaye, Bauer, Diouf, Crouch.

Subs: Haugaard, Ireland, Adam, Cameron, Fletcher, Sobhi, Campbell.

A beautiful touch from Liverpool ahead of kick-off sees a jersey belonging to St Peter’s GAA club hang in the dressing room in support of Sean Cox. The Dunboyne father of three was severely injured during an attack before Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final with Roma.

Just 10 minutes to go before kick-off as supporters continue to flood into Anfield.

952294716 Source: Clive Brunskill


Liverpool v Stoke City - Premier League

Stoke have never won at Anfield in a top-flight game, but will that change here today? Paul Lambert has enjoyed a decent record at this ground with both Norwich and Aston Villa, but his Potters’ side are simply fighting for their lives at the moment.

All eyes are firmly on Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final second leg in Rome on Wednesday, but a top four finish still needs to be put to bed for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

A matter of moments to go now, how do we see this going?


No shots for either side inside the opening four minutes, but Stoke have played with a renewed sense of urgency which really was lacking during last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Burnley.

A lapse mistake at the back from Virgil van Dijk conceded an early corner, however Xherdan Shaqiri only succeeded in overhitting his cross.


CHANCE! Goodness me, how did that not go in? Played clean through on goal Anfield braced itself in anticipation for Mohamed Salah to dink the ball past Jack Butland like he has so many times this season.

The forward looked cool and composed in the one vs one situation, indeed succeeded in chipping the ball over Butland, however to the crowd’s utter disbelief the shot lagged wide of the post.


It’s hard to actually recall Mo Salah missing a one on one situation at all this season and the sight of him chipping a shot narrowly wide really did seem to take the entire crowd by surprise.

It really should be 1-0, but I’m sure the fans inside Anfield will forgive their Egyptian King this miss.


There appears to be a lack of intensity about this game at the moment. Jurgen Klopp has evidently decided against resting both Salah and Roberto Firmino but neither has been able to get on the ball a whole lot after 15 minutes.

Perhaps a combination of the draining sunshine and Wednesday’s Champions League second leg in Rome is an explanation for this sluggish start. The Reds won’t have to reach top gear to put this Stoke side to bed, but any degree of over-confidence could risk dropping important points.


Mame Biram Diouf hits the side-netting for Stoke after some very suspect defensive organisation from Liverpool. A cross delivered to the back post finds the forward unmarked as Klopp’s side back-peddle desperately, but he can only head down and wide.

A big let-off for the hosts there.


At the other end right away Mo Salah gets his side going with a swift counter. Bearing down into the box the shot looks on, but instead he picks out the run of Trent Alexander-Arnold — who can only hit the ball right at Butland weakly from close range.


It’s really end-to-end now as ex-Liverpool man and bonafide banter merchant Peter Crouch almost slides in to break the deadlock. Shaqiri gets behind enemy lines and crosses right across the goalmouth.

Crouch is millimetres from getting a touch, but even his long legs can’t stretch far enough to bundle the ball home. Very close.

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CHANCE! Georginio Wijnaldum comes close again. He collects possession just inside the box after Roberto Firmino’s cross was poorly headed clear. The Dutch international used the time and space afforded to him, but his shot dragged just inches wide of the post.


A stop-start opening half an hour so far. No goals, but plenty of chances to break the deadlock.

Liverpool v Stoke City - Premier League Source: Clive Brunskill


Liverpool v Stoke City - Premier League


ALMOST! Salah very nearly puts Liverpool 1-0 ahead with a sumptuous free-kick. He was fouled for the free after Jack Butland tried to retrieve possession from his line and one of his defender’s was forced to cynically foul the Reds forward last-ditch.

He took command of the free 25 yards out from goal, but his shot narrowly missed the top corner with a dangerous curl.


Peter Crouch is the first player to be booked this afternoon. He dives in late on Roberto Firmino vying for possession and the Stoke forward is given a yellow card.


GOAL! But it won’t count… Danny Ings reels away in jubilant celebration for what he thought was in second goal in as many Premier League games. He rifles the ball past Jack Butland superbly from an acute angle, but is subsequently flagged for offside correctly by the linesman.



A concern for Liverpool now as Jordan Henderson goes down injured holding his left ankle. Jurgen Klopp is already short of midfielders with recent injuries to Emre Can and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and has been forced to play Trent Alexander-Arnold in a more central position today as a result.



Well, what have we made of that?

Nothing to separate the sides at the break but there have been opportunities at both ends in an entertaining 45 minutes. With just two and a half Premier League games to go to try and secure their top-flight survival, Stoke know a win is needed here.

Liverpool have not been the swash-buckling side they have been all season, but they probably haven’t needed to be either. It’s been tight and often nip and tuck at times, but nevertheless enjoyable.

The second half is coming up shortly…

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SECOND-HALF: We’re back underway for another 45 minutes at Anfield!


No changes for either side at the break as Jordan Henderson succeeds in recovering from that ankle setback at the end of the first half. Joe Allen has went down early on, however, but likewise has chosen to continue on and battle through the pain barrier.


Mohamed Salah sweeps a sweet strike from the edge of the box, but his effort flies wayward and over the crossbar. Liverpool’s first chance of the second half as the game begins to find its groove again.


In fact, there will be a switch for Stoke early on in this second half. Dutch defender Bruno Martins Indi went down and is replaced by Ramadan Sobhi.


A penalty shout for Liverpool as Salah goes down after a light tussle with Erik Pieters inside the box. The defender seemed to have a brief hold of the forward’s shirt but overall the referee seemed happy he was simply standing his ground.


Stoke doing a really good job of keeping tabs on Salah and Firmino so far. They easily would have taken 0-0 at this stage of the game if you had offered it to Paul Lambert before kick-off.

Looking to always break on the counter, they still have a chance of getting something from this game. It would be the shock of shocks however, as Liverpool haven’t lost once in the Premier League at Anfield this season.


Jurgen Klopp preparing to make his first switch of the afternoon as the Champions League’s leading assist provider James Milner warms up. The midfielder has more assists in Europe this season than Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta and anyone else under the sun. Mind boggling, but at the same time completely deserved.


Substitution for Liverpool: James Milner replaces Danny Ings.


Just wide! — Alberto Moreno gets the ball out of his feet and sizes up a shot at goal from range. The Spaniard strikes sweetly, but his effort drags narrowly beyond the bottom corner it was intended for.


This second half has been intrusively flat. It seems unfair to compare it to their midweek 5-2 champagne supernova against Roma, but boy is there some difference.

The game’s are incomparable and the fact that Liverpool know a draw here combined with a draw at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea next week will be enough to secure a top four finish will be firmly playing in the backs of their minds.

With so few chances to shout about after the break here, Anfield has grown eerily silent.


Chance! A rare sight at goal comes courtesy of an excellent Alberto Moreno cross from the left flank.

He picks out Mohamed Salah but the Egyptian forward is beaten to the ball a split second quicker by Kurt Zouma, who denies what would have been a certain tap-in. Great defending to keep it all square.


Eight minutes to go now as Stoke still press forward and begin to apply a decent amount of pressure to Liverpool’s backline. The hosts escape and manage to carve out a corner as Virgil van Dijk’s long-range effort is deflected wide.


The cross was well overhit and easily headed clear. Stoke have done enough to deserve a point here today with a solid defensive display inspired by Erik Pieters’ expert marking of PFA Player of the Year Salah, who has hardly had a sniff at goal.

Can they hang on?


Serious shouts for a penalty now as the ball bounces off Pieters’ outstretched arm inside the penalty area from Georginio Wijnaldum’s cross. Andre Marriner is having none of it, though, and waves play on to the crowd’s dismay.


Chance! Goodness, Stoke almost bag a dramatic winner at the other end. Diouf arrows the ball across the box and with the goal at his beg-and-mercy Ryan Shawcross just can’t manage to bundle it over the line. So very close.



There will be six minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half.


A flurry of late half-chances for Liverpool sees Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum both put efforts over the crossbar. Frustration continuing to grow inside Anfield with a couple of minutes remaining.

About the author:

Aaron Gallagher


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