Lacklustre Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw by Stoke at Anfield for the third time in five seasons as the Reds’ disappointing start to this Premier League campaign under new manager Brendan Rodgers continued. The Merseysiders have lost three, drawn three and won just once in the top-flight this term – a run of results which will have to be improved upon in the coming weeks and months if Rodgers is to guide his side to a top-four finish at the first attempt.
The two biggest talking points involved controversial Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez, who scored a superb hat-trick in the previous league outing. Stoke defender Robert Huth appeared to stamp on Suarez early on in the fixture – a foul that went unpunished, leaving the striker frustrated. The former Ajax man then did himself no favours when he took a tumble in the penalty area later on in the game following minimal or no contact at all. Rodgers has recently been irritated by the lack of protection given to Suarez, who has been fouled in the area on a few occasions since the start of the season without receiving a penalty. However, the Liverpool manager can have no complaints about the decision in question this time.
Some fans have suggested that Suarez’s apparent act of simulation came simply because he was frustrated with the challenges against him during the game, such as the foul by Huth. Unfortunately, that excuse is unlikely to gain much sympathy outside of Anfield. Instead, Suarez’s decision to go down without good reason is likely to go against him over the coming games. When the Uruguayan goes down in the area, suspicious referees will be cautious about giving a decision in his favour. This has been evident already on previous occasions this term and the issue may get worse in the future.
One positive for the hosts was the fact that they kept a clean-sheet – their first of the season. Prior to the Stoke clash, Liverpool were conceding an average of two goals in every league game, so to keep Tony Pulis’ side out for ninety minutes was something of an achievement as Rodgers’ revolution continues. The manager will hope for a similar sturdy defensive performance when the Reds face newly-promoted Reading after the international break. He will also be eager to see his side make the most of their opportunities in front of goal, just as they did against Norwich.
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