After conceding an early goal against the run of play, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were under pressure against Stoke City at Anfield particularly in a scenario when all other top four rivals got crucial victories in Boxing Day fixtures. However, in spite of initial stumbles, the Reds delivered one of the most entertaining football of 2016-17 campaign and thrashed the Potters 4-1 on Christmas eve.
Stoke boss Mark Hughes changed his game-plan and benched his key attackers Bojan Krkic and Xherdan Shaqiri before the game. He fielded former Liverpool forward Peter Crouch to partner Jonathan Walters up front in order to execute long ball strategy which worked well as Liverpool conceded an early goal at around the 12th-minute mark when the later scored a thumping header from Erik Pieters’ cross. Things could have been worse for Liverpool but custodian Simon Mignolet thwarted Joe Allen, another former Red, and resisted the Potters to double their lead. Liverpool slowly got back into the game and kept on pressing upfront and creating chances. Peter Crouch denied Roberto Firmino’s effort from goal-line. But the fluidity and dominance paid off finally when Adam Lallana calmly slotted home from an acute angle. The turn around completed right on course of the half-time whistle when Roberto Firmino struck against the far post but the ball managed to cross the line. An electrifying half ended 2-1 in favour of the Reds.
Liverpool started the second half with more control and confidence and the Potters had no answer against their waves of attacking threats. Soon they increased the scoreline when Divock Origi’s delivery across the goal was ended back of the net by Stoke’s Giannelli Imbula. The fourth and the final goal came from another defensive howler when substitute Daniel Sturridge picked up Ryan Shawcross’ disastrous back-pass and beat Stoke custodian Lee Grant to finish things off in style. Reds managed three back to back victories and cemented their position at second place ( 6 points behind Chelsea) before their mega clash against Manchester City on 31st December.
Liverpool vs Stoke City LineUps:
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan, James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana (Emre Can 69′), Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino ( Alberto Moreno 75′), Divock Origi (Daniel Sturridge 69′).
Stoke City: Lee Grant, Glen Johnson, Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi, Erik Pieters, Glenn Whelan (Ramadam Sobhi 67′), Giannelli Imbula, Mame Biram Diouf (Ibrahim Afellay 75′), Joe Allen, Jonathan Walters, Peter Crouch (Wilfried Bony 84′)
Liverpool vs Stoke City Highlights:
Liverpool vs Stoke City Match Stats:
|Shots (On Target)||20(6)||6(2)|
|Fouls conceded (Bookings)||9(0)||6(1)|