Liverpool 2-1 Stoke – Another Semi Final Awaits

By Jonathan Carroll

Kenny Dalglish guided Liverpool to their second semi-final of 2012 with a 2-1 win over a battling Stoke City at Anfield on Sunday. A very physical affair didn’t take much time to gather momentum as tackles flew in from both sides.

Facing Stoke is always a positive and negative situation in one. As an opponent you always know what you’re going to get from Stoke but the big question is, can you stop it? In a first half that saw Stoke play long ball at every opportunity from their back line and target Peter Crouch up front, Liverpool dealt reasonably well. Martin Skrtel continues to improve in leaps and bounds and was by far the man of the match on this occasion.

With Charlie Adam once again dropped and Maxi Rodriguez replacing Jordan Henderson there was a little more fluidity to the reds when the ball went wide. On the opposite side of the pitch, Stewart Downing had a nervous first half, needlessly giving away possession with careless passes and never offering much more than a lay off after cutting inside his defender.

Luis Suarez opened the scoring with a fantastic curling effort from twenty-yards out. After exchanging passes with Maxi, the Uruguayan curled a speculative effort past Thomas Sorenson at the Kop end. The lead was only held for three minutes as a lack of communication and decision-making combined from Andy Carroll and Pepe Reina allowed Peter Crouch to head home a corner from three yards out. Ryan Shotton “boxed out” Reina in a move that LeBron James would have been proud of in the NBA and Carroll didn’t track his man all the way. Game on.

The second half saw a more conservative Stoke concede field position and looked to hit Crouch to hold up the ball when they needed to relieve some pressure. Both outside backs for Liverpool, Jose Enrique and Martin Kelly found themselves in positive attacking areas during the second half looking to create for others around them. After picking the ball up wide right, Stewart Downing cut in from the wing, exchanged passes with Gerrard, if unintentional on Gerrard’s part and Downing with an intelligent touch took three Stoke defenders out of the equation before hammering home what would prove to be the winner. Downing has underperformed this season, there’s no sugar-coating that fact but to see him have some success is going to give hope to every Liverpool supporter that there may be light at the end of the tunnel where he is concerned. Time will tell.

Not even the introduction of long throw expert Rory Delap could help Stoke grab an equalizer and Liverpool are off to Wembley to face the winners of Sunderland and Everton in the semi-finals. Ties will be played on the weekend of April 14th and 15th. Liverpool will play on April 14th with the Hillsborough Anniversary on the fifteenth. It would be quite fitting to have both Merseyside clubs at Wembley to remember those who lost their lives at Hillsborough.

A common feature at games these days are the lowlife chants directed at opposition supporters. Summed up magnificently by Daniel Taylor of the Guardian in his article, “Football matches are suffering from a chorus of the damned“. Taylor is by far and away one of my least favorite journalists but he hits the nail on the head in his latest article. Sadly at Anfield today, Stoke City supporters took more time to chant abuse at Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll rather than support their own team. Their supporters join the ranks of others traveling fans who make it their mission to come up with the crudest chants when they visit Anfield. There was no mention of Hillsborough or Heysel today from the traveling congregation (that I know of) but perhaps their energy would have been better served willing their own team to score a second instead of what they actually chanted about. As the Pabrice Muamba incident demonstrated, life is precious and no one inside White Hart Lane would even have considered belittling the situation on Saturday evening with a vile chant. So why do the powers that be acknowledge and constantly tolerate Hillsborough, Munich and Gary Speed chants belittling the dead? Chants about death have no place in football, on or off the pitch.

Dalglish’s men now turn their attention to QPR away in another important league fixture on Wednesday evening. Kickoff is schedule for 8pm GMT and 4pm EST.

Liverpool

  • 25 Reina (Booked) – 7
  • 03 Jose Enrique – 7
  • 23 Carragher – 7
  • 34 Kelly (Booked) (Coates – 89′ ) – 6
  • 37 Skrtel – 9
  • 08 Gerrard – 7
  • 11 Maxi (Kuyt – 61′ ) – 6
  • 19 Downing – 6
  • 20 Spearing – 7
  • 07 Suarez (Henderson – 89′ ) – 8
  • 09 Carroll – 6

Substitutes

  • 32 Doni
  • 16 Coates
  • 38 Flanagan
  • 14 Henderson
  • 26 Adam
  • 33 Shelvey
  • 18 Kuyt

Man of the Match: Martin Skrtel – The big Slovak once again showed his development with a smart and physical display to null the attacking threat that Stoke poised with some great tackles. The center half now looks technicaly comfortable playing out of the back.

Stoke City

  • 29 Sorensen – 7
  • 04 Huth – 7
  • 17 Shawcross (Booked) – 6
  • 28 Wilkinson (Booked) – 6
  • 30 Shotton (Pennant – 61′ ) – 6
  • 06 Whelan (Booked) – 7
  • 12 Wilson (Booked) – 7
  • 18 Whitehead (Delap – 74′ ) – 8
  • 26 Etherington (Jerome – 72′ ) – 5
  • 19 Walters – 7
  • 25 Crouch – 8

Substitutes

  • 27 Nash
  • 20 Upson
  • 16 Pennant
  • 24 Delap
  • 40 Palacios
  • 09 Jones
  • 33 Jerome
Referee: Kevin Friend
Attendance: 43,962

Match Statistics

    Liverpool                                    Stoke City

Possession            56%                                                44%

Shots on Target     8                                                      4

Corners                   2                                                      5

Fouls                       10                                                    17

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This entry was posted in FA Cup and tagged , , , , by Jonathan Carroll. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jonathan Carroll

I’m a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Born and bred in Ireland I played Gaelic football and soccer while growing up and attended the prestigious Colaiste Ide in Dublin to prepare for a soccer scholarship to the USA. I played soccer at Thomas University in Georgia and was made team captain in my junior and senior years. I was honored to become an All-American in those same years. I graduated in 2007 and coached high school and collegiate level soccer programs incorporating year round strength and conditioning techniques with great success. I moved to Boston in 2011 and went on to work at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning. I am currently the head strength and conditioning coach for the Boston Wolfe Tones Gaelic football team. Qualifications: Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA) USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach FMS Certified United States Soccer Federation “D” License Football Association of Ireland Certified

One thought on “Liverpool 2-1 Stoke – Another Semi Final Awaits

  1. Pingback: Liverpool heads to London for must-win against QPR | The Red Letter

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