Final, 0-0: It’s all over at Anfield. Liverpool has been held to its seventh home draw of the season by a resolute Stoke defense. On the flip side, LFC is still unbeaten at its historic ground this season.
The Reds dominated possession throughout the game, but created few genuine scoring chances.
Dalglish rotated the team and changed the formation. It might have cost LFC some of its cutting edge going forward.
Stoke never intended to attack the Reds at Anfield and simply defended for 90 minutes. Etherington had an opportunity in the first half, but that was the extent of the danger the visitors posed.
Liverpool remains in sixth place in the Premier League, but lost ground to fourth-place Chelsea. The Reds are five points out of that coveted fourth spot. Stoke keeps hold eight with a draw at Anfield.
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91st minute, 0-0: LFC is applying all the pressure — just as it has done for the last 90 minutes — but Stoke’s now desperate defending has kept things scoreless.
86th minute, 0-0: Skrtel elevates and heads a corner down, but it bounces over the bar.
83rd minute, 0-0: Kuyt has another header that falls wide of the far post. He’s finding a bit more space in the final third as the game reaches its climax.
77th minute, 0-0: Kuyt’s free header from seven yards out goes agonizingly wide. Adam sent Enrique down the left with a well-weighted through pass. Enrique’s cross deflected off Woodgate into the path of the unmarked Kuyt.
74th minute, 0-0: LFC has two penalty appeals in quick succession. Woodgate tripped over Kuyt in the area. Carroll was brought down in the box by Shawcross seconds later. Howard Webb refuses the pleas of the crowd and allows play to continue.
73rd minute, 0-0: Bellamy comes on for Henderson.
72nd minute, 0-0: It’s more of the same for much of the second half so far. The Reds have dominated possession, but Stoke’s defense-first approach has frustrated the hosts.
62nd minute, 0-0: Palacios comes off and Whitehead replaces him in Stoke’s first change of the game.
The Honduran was throwing himself around in the midfield, but didn’t have much influence on the game.
58th minute, 0-0: Carroll is coming into the game, and Downing’s day is over.
55th minute, 0-0: Adam delivers a superb diagonal ball, but Enrique’s cross does not find a teammate. It shows that the Reds must get to the goal-line in order to stretch the Stoke defense. But midfielders need to make those late runs into the box to make the tactic an effective one.
51st minute, 0-0: Johnson fires a shot wide in LFC’s first attempt at goal in the second half. The England right back has gotten forward a number of times, but found too much resistance in Stoke’s defense.
48th minute, 0-0: LFC makes no changes at halftime. Stoke City has a corner kick and sends its trees forward. Reds clear the danger.
Halftime, 0-0: Dalglish’s new formation has minimized the danger that Stoke’s tall lineup can pose, but it has come at a cost.
When LFC goes forward, Stoke sits back in its two lines of defense, and comfortably clears the danger.
Kuyt, Downing and Gerrard have interchanged positions, but the space is so limited, there is not much they can do. Johnson and Enrique have provided adequate width, but their crosses are met by Stoke’s waiting defense.
41st minute, 0-0: As the game approaches halftime, the Reds are controlling the game. But they haven’t been able to cut open the Stoke defense in the final third.
35th minute, 0-0: LFC is having difficulty finding space between Stoke’s lines of defense. But the tough-tackling visitors have given away a number a number of free kicks in dangerous spots. The onus is on the Reds to convert them into genuine scoring opportunities.
32nd minute, 0-0: Downing goes on a surging run through the middle — similar to the one he took in the opening game against Sunderland, but his powerful shot sails over Sorensen’s goal.
29th minute, 0-0: Shawcross fouls Kuyt and is booked for it. It was a clumsy tackle.
24th minute, 0-0: Etherington catches LFC with numbers forward, runs from his own half and unleashes a shot on Reina. The Stoke winger has tucked into the middle to escape Johnson and found space.
21st minute, 0-0: Woodgate fouls Downing on the left side, and escapes a yellow card.
19th minute, 0-0: 20 minutes into this one, and the Reds have shown little in the way of attacking thrust. They’re solid at the back and Stoke hasn’t created anything of its own.
10th minute, 0-0: LFC has its first moment of danger. Gerrard delivers a corner kick to the far post, which finds Adam. But the midfielder can’t control it and it deflects wide.
Fifth minute, 0-0: Liverpool’s packed midfield is allowing it to maintain possession, but Stoke is solid in defense. LFC hasn’t been able to create a scoring chance against the disciplined visitors.
First minute, 0-0: Five nominal defenders have lined up for the Reds, so we’ll expect to see the home team switch between three and five at the back.
9:30 a.m.: Here are the lineups:
Pepe Reina (25), goalkeeper
Jose Enrique (3), left back
Jamie Carragher (23), center back
Sebastian Coates (16), center back
Martin Skrtel (37), center back
Glen Johnson (2), right back
Charlie Adam (26), midfielder
Jordan Henderson (14), midfielder
Stewart Downing (19), midfielder
Steve Gerrard (8), midfielder
Dirk Kuyt (18), forward
Doni (32), goalkeeper
Fabio Aurelio (6), defender
Martin Kelly (34), defender
Jon Flanagan (38), defender
Jonjo Shelvey (33), midfielder
Craig Bellamy (39), forward
Andy Carroll (9), striker
Thomas Sorensen (29), goalkeeper
Ryan Shawcross (17), right back
Jonathan Woodgate (39), center back
Robert Huth (4), center back
Marc Wilson (12), left back
Wilson Palacios (40), midfielder
Rory Delap (24), midfield
Matthew Etherington (26), midfield
Glenn Whelan (6), midfield
Peter Crouch (25), forward
Jonathan Walters (19), forward
Asmir Begovich (1), goalkeeper
Andy Wilkinson (28), defender
Dean Whitehead (18), midfield
Jermaine Pennant (16), midfield
Ricardo Fuller (10), forward
Cameron Jerome (33), forward
Kenwyne Jones (9), striker
12 a.m. ET: The atmosphere at Anfield is growing more positive by the day. Consecutive cup wins were followed by Steve Gerrard signing a new contract. A win over Stoke City Saturday will cap a fine week for the Reds, and the Anfield crowd will be expecting just that.
Liverpool emerged from a festive period in good shape. That is a triumph in itself, as the club dealt with a flurry of games and the loss of its star forward, Luis Suarez. The Reds showed great strength during a time of adversity, and that character display should propel them forward in the second half of the season.
Gerrard’s return to fitness in recent weeks has given the entire club a lift. It has also increased competition for places in starting 11, which can only help the team. LFC will field a strong starting 11, that could see some players who have featured in the cup games make way for the more familiar faces.
Eighth-place Stoke won the last league meeting between these two teams in September. The 1-0 win was a bitter blow for the Reds, as they outplayed their stubborn hosts for most of the contest. LFC’s 2-1 Carling Cup win in October helped soften the blow, but a victory on Saturday will consign the September loss to history.
The Potters performed well enough in December to keep their hopes for a place in next season’s European competitions alive. They will be well rested, as their last game was a 3-1 win at Gillingham last Saturday.
Join us at 10 a.m. ET for our Liverpool Live Blog. We’ll have all the action right here.
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