LIVERPOOL 4-1 STOKE CITY
Liverpool have taken Stoke’s points and even their place in the league table as we won this league fixture emphatically and moved up to 8th place.
Jürgen Klopp would have to change his focus from Europa League to Premier League for just a while as Stoke travelled to Anfield.
Other changes we saw happen were deliberately rested players that Klopp certainly wants for his Europa League second leg fixture against Borussia Dortmund and so we would see Sheyi Ojo and Kevin Stewart put straight into the starting 11 and Brad Smith as substitute. Not that choosing some less experienced players for the squad did any harm to the result of our game, clearly. We went out there and still out played our opponents.
The first half started a little uneasy like we didn’t know who was going to score first, but this feeling only lasted around 8 minutes as Alberto Moreno made it Liverpool 1-0 Stoke within the first ten minutes to put the home fans minds at ease with a left footed shot to the bottom right corner of the net.
Now, we were on top and looking likely to win. Sure, we’ve seen some teams score a goal of their own to make a comeback now and again (including Borussia Dortmund in the last week) but we still had gained enough confidence to think that wouldn’t happen. But then it happened. By the 22nd minute, Stoke had been pressuring for a while and sneaking ever further towards our goal with each attack. Xherdan Shaqiri would provide a decent cross that found Bojan and he would find enough space to jump into the air and head a shot past Mignolet and the bottom of our net. Liverpool 1-1 Stoke
There’s not much benefit from discussing who was to blame for conceding this goal. I wouldn’t like to say it was Mignolet’s fault and our defence ultimately played so well in this game that we held off our attackers enough times to still provide a win for us. Pointing fingers doesn’t help. Our team deserves praise.
The best defenders we had included the newly returned from injury Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure. Both defenders put in impressive amounts of effort and their hard work stopped Stoke from scoring any more than 1 single goal. Good enough, because we’d score 4 goals ourselves.
We surely weren’t going to draw or lose this game. It was a certain feeling of victory on the way that Liverpool fans had gotten from our performance so far.
Though the scores were equal now, it didn’t seem like both sides were in fact of equal strength. Liverpool were dominating the game, challenging for every ball that came anywhere near us. Joe Allen in fact had the most challenges with 8 tackles and was the main man just keeping the ball with our players as we put our possession up into very high percentages.
Just ten minutes after Stoke’s goal, Liverpool would score another. Now we really were proving (even with the scoreline) that we were the better side as we took the lead once again. An unexpected cross from Sheyi Ojo took Stoke defenders by surprise and Daniel Sturridge would happily seize the opportunity to head the ball past their goalkeeper (Jakob Haugaard) from close range. Credit to Ojo and credit to Sturridge, both were exceptional in their efforts which resulted in this goal. Liverpool 2-1 Stoke.
Sheyi Ojo is still only 18 years old and yet playing as an older more experienced player would be expected to play, high quality football. A performance like this will only impress the manager and he may yet see more action as the season continues. Though Sturridge and Origi are forming a rather impressive partnership already, Ojo could be the man out on the wings that provides assists for them and would be highly valued as a squad member if he can do this.
So, the game now continued to the half time whistle and Liverpool still had a lead over Stoke. A confident feeling that we wouldn’t let our lead sleep away in the second half was among the fans. We’d only have to wait 5 minutes into the second half to see our next goal now. James Milner would put over a wonderful cross that found Divock Origi. Origi had substituted for Ojo at half time, due to injury concerns. No official word on the extent of the injury Ojo picked up but the manager still felt it was necessary to replace him and not make it any worse than it was even if it was just minor.
As Milner’s cross found Origi, he’d run towards the ball at high speed and direct it from his head, past the goalkeeper and into the net at close range. Nice assist from Milner, he’d made plenty of effort in the game and it resulted in a goal eventually. Nobody can deny his valuable contributions, even if he wasn’t on the score sheet himself in this game. Liverpool 3-1 Stoke.
The third goal had not only doubled our lead but had also doubled fans confidence that we were on our way to taking all three points from this fixture.
I was in the Kop, just soaking up the atmosphere and loving every minute of it. Thousands of happy Liverpool fans all surrounded me and there was just an adrenaline rush that probably could not be equalled unless you were skydiving or surfing, perhaps. The buzz was electric.
This is how close I was from the Kop end goal, just a few rows away from where Simon Mignolet would stand for a half and where our players would score twice in the second half.
Both of those second half goals were Divock Origi’s. The second goal was around the 65th minute and came from a beautiful cross provided by Alberto Moreno on the left wing (1 goal and 1 assist for Moreno in this game, an impressive achievement also) went to Origi’s right foot, which he placed perfectly (and he could not have put it any further across the goal than he did without missing). It went all the way to the right hand post and into the net. Liverpool 4-1 Stoke. There was still half an hour left to play (including injury time) but Liverpool fans were all 100 % certain that we’d won this game by now. More concerned with singing Divock Origi’s name loud around Anfield.
Origi’s put all his hard work into training hard since he got to Liverpool and even when he’s not been featured in squad lineups, he’s been improving his skill on the training ground. What we’ve seen now is a result of all his hard work. Two goals in one game and without a doubt, the Man Of The Match.
I can’t praise Origi enough at the moment. I said previously (after the Borussia Dortmund game at Borussia-dortmund-V-liverpool) that he’d be a good player to bet on scoring and what’s he done? Gone and scored – twice more. I have confidence he can do more than this, too. Don’t think you’ve seen the best he can do either… he’s just getting started in his career for Liverpool. Expect much more from him and you will likely not be disappointed.
Origi’s background is an interesting one. He’s a well known part of the Belgian international squad but his father is Mike Origi, who played for Kenya’s international squad between 1989 and 2004. Divock would have been eligible to play for Kenya also, but chose his own place of birth (Ostend, Belgium) to determine which country he would represent and so is known as a Belgian international star. Europeans and Africans can both be proud of him as his career now turns to exciting directions with Liverpool.
So, Liverpool got their win and moved up to 8th place in the Premier League. We could have made it to 7th place if Southampton had lost to Newcastle yesterday but Rafa Benitez’s new side aren’t doing so well and look likely to face relegation by the end of the season. I just hope Rafa isn’t criticized too much or sacked if that actually happens and they move down to the Championship. He’ll still be an improvement on the last manager, even if they drop down a league.
I should also mention that Southampton have played two more games than Liverpool and simply winning our “games in hand” could put us above Southampton eventually. We’re likely to make 7th place at least, though have been aiming for 5th and 4th as a general target throughout the entire season. More European football will be welcomed by all Reds.
Speaking of which, our German opponents make their way to Anfield next. This will be just as good for Klopp’s old fans as it will be for the regular Liverpool fans who go to our home games. Prepare for more exciting Europa League Quarter Finals action.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.