Liverpool travelled to Stoke to face one of their toughest tests of the season. Liverpool were desperate to get three points here as they dropped 2 at home to Bournemouth also Manchester United and Arsenal are hot on their heels.
There were a few surprise changes in the starting 11 seeing two youngsters in Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander Arnold given starts. Liverpool were playing the 3 at the back system which they deployed against Bournemouth in the second half. This introduction to the youngsters did see Firmino and Coutinho drop to the bench. Firmino was on the bench as Klopp mentioned in his pre-match press conference that he has played in many games consecutively and in the case for Coutinho he had been ill that relegated him to the bench.
Liverpool took time adjusting to their new formation and couldn’t get a proper foothold in the game. Whereas for Stoke they were looking much brighter and playing the long balls and posing a threat to the 3 Liverpool center backs.
In the 3rd minute, Stoke were looking strong with a goal being disallowed by the linesman. It certainly was a close call.
In the 16th minute, Liverpool had their first clear opening but Divock Origi blazed his shot high and wide of the Stoke goal.
Ben Woodburn barged past 3 Stoke midfielders though wasn’t able to pull the trigger and the game remained goalless. Though this run from the 17-year-old did injure the Ex-Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen who came off for another former Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam.
Liverpool were trying to make their attempts at the Stoke goal but were unable to find the end product. Erick Pieters fouled Ben Woodburn in the box which seemed a definite penalty though that was denied by the referee on the day- Mike Dean who let play role on and Liverpool were caught in this penalty mayhem as the Swiss playmaker Shaqiri put a delightful ball in for boyhood Everton fan Jonathon Walters who scored making it 6 goals for him in his last 8 appearances against Liverpool which sent the Potters ahead at half time.
Klopp didn’t wait and straight away brought on the two Samba boys in Coutinho and Firmino for the two youngsters.
Liverpool were looking like the better side after the interval, this was evident as Divock Origi worked a chance for himself though the shot was wide. Liverpool were playing at a much higher tempo and drive as Firmino’s shot was punched above the net from the Stoke goalie Grant.
68 minutes in Liverpool were still behind as they brought on Daniel Sturridge for Origi. This had an almost immediate impact as Can dinked the ball in the box which was cluttered amongst several bodies though it was the unmarked Coutinho who volleyed the ball into the bottom left and equalizing for the Reds.
Liverpool back in this game big time as just two minutes later as Matip launched a long ball forward and it found Roberto Firmino who took it on one bounce and banged it past Lee Grant. His celebration was immense as he removed his shirt in joy.
Just as Liverpool scored Stoke went the other end and if it wasn’t for Simon Mignolet the game would have been back to level terms as Simon pulled a stellar point blank save. Shutting up his doubters.
That was it, Liverpool were victories which placed them above Manchester City with City having a game in hand. Liverpool though weren’t particularly good in the first half but they turned it on in the second and deserved all three vital points at Stoke which will surely play a hand at the end of the season.