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Liverpool 2 Stoke City 1 - FA Cup QF (Mar 18 2012)

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LIVERPOOL 2 Stoke City 1

Report by Dave Usher at Anfield

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Scorer(s) – Luis Suarez, Stewart Downing

Half Time - 2-1

Venue - Anfield

Date - Sun 18 Mar 2012

Star Man – Jay Spearing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not pretty but job done. It's incredibly difficult for anyone to ever look good against Stoke, they're a horrible, niggly, cynical, dirty alehouse team who make it virtually impossible for teams to play football against them. This was a war of attrition but we came through it. I don't care how we looked performance wise, it was all about reaching the semi final and we did it. There's little point analysing a performance against Stoke, they'd even manage to make Barcelona look disjointed.

 

After performing so well in the derby it was encouraging to see Kenny more or less stick to the same team. The only change was one that I was actually really happy to see, Henderson making way for Maxi. The Argentine has been massively under-used this season so it was nice seeing him back on the field, although you could argue Stoke are not exactly the ideal opposition for a small, ball playing midfielder like Maxi.

 

The first half wasn't good. We didn't really get going as it was so stop start, and the referee didn't help matters by being typically fucking clueless. His assistants were actually worse, which takes a unique brand of shitness given how shocking the ref was. Not that I was surprised, Kevin Friend is an absolute twat. You'd have to watch a hell of a lot of football to see a worse refereeing display than he turned it at Fulham earlier this season when he sent Spearing off. He did his best to top it but I'd say he fell just short.

 

Things had been going well for us initially, Suarez opened the scoring with a terrific strike after linking up with his boy Maxi. It's really important getting the first goal against Stoke, as if they get their noses in front they can be very difficult to break down. Score first though and they have to come out of their shell a bit and it makes it much easier. In theory anyway, it kind of falls down a bit if you only hold onto the lead for three minutes.

 

Friend & friends more than played their part in the equaliser. The initial corner that was given was dubious, but everyone in the ground then saw that no Liverpool player touched the ball as it travelled across the face of goal. Well, everyone except Friend and the Centenary side lino who awarded another corner. It was ridiculous, but I turned to my arl fella and said 'they'll probably score from this now'. It's amazing how often it happens. You concede a corner either through a stupid mistake or an incorrect call by the officials, and it results in a goal.

 

I haven't seen any replays of the goal yet, at the time I just saw Crouch with a completely free header. Carroll was picking him up from set-pieces so I assume he lost him on this one. I've heard people say Reina was fouled, but there's no way I could see that from where I was sat. Reina was booked for arguing about it, I assumed he was arguing about the award of a corner but maybe he was complaining about being impeded. I'm not convinced, I simply can't imagine Stoke doing anything illegal from a set-piece, it's just not in their make up….

 

Gerrard also had a right go at the ref, and continued to do so throughout the first half as a series of bizarre decisions went against us. The most disturbing was when Suarez tried to cut inside Huth but the ball struck the defender on the leg and went towards the Kop end. Huth tried to retrieve it whilst shielding Suarez but he fell over, yet linesman and referee both gave a goal-kick. It was incredible.

 

Carragher stayed behind at half time to remonstrate with the officials about Stoke's goal, you could see him pointing to the corner flag and it was obvious what his complaint was. Not that there's any point, it's too late to change his mind and he seems like the type of referee who would be even more inclined to favour the other side the more you complain about it. Known in the business as 'doing a Steve Bennett'.

 

We'd not looked good in that first half, we'd had a few promising moves but weren't getting enough from out wide. Maxi wasn't involved much and Downing didn't look particularly comfortable playing in front of Kelly. He's done ok at times on the right when Johnson has been there, but I'm not sure him and Kelly have played much together and they were pretty ineffective I thought.

 

Suarez and Carroll didn't have great service and Stoke made it very difficult for us in the final third. It's just very difficult to look good against them, we always used to find it hard against Wimbledon back in the day too, and that was when we had a great team. Stoke are the modern day answer to the Crazy Gang and they excel in making good teams look ugly and disjointed. They play for set-pieces, they constantly foul and time waste and disrupt the flow of the game, and they're very good at it.

 

It actually seems to be far easier playing them at the Brittannia than it is when they are on their travels, as they often just completely park the bus when they go away. They're hardly gung ho at home either like, but we do seem to find it a little easier to get the ball down and play at their place. We've played them four times this season, and we played much better football in the two away games even though we lost one of them.

 

The second half was better but we never managed to really get going and didn't come anywhere near to the level we'd shown against the blues a few days earlier. Thankfully we did enough, Downing's fine strike proving decisive. It was a good goal, he was heavily involved in the build up and his finish was excellent. We've waited a long time to see him do that, but he's been playing better of late and hopefully he'll continue to grow between now and the end of the season. A lot of it is confidence with him, technique wise he's very good, he just needs to start asserting himself more.

 

Stoke put us under pressure in the final ten minutes, but it's worth mentioning that Reina didn't actually have to make a save other than to come out and catch a few long throw ins.

 

Not that Stoke's keeper was much busier. I can't think of a save he had to make either. Suarez worked a good opening for himself and then hit one of the worst shots you'll ever see. Kelly almost went clean through after a great ball from Kuyt but Shawcross came from nowhere to make a great block. Kelly was injured in the challenge and never recovered, he was eventually forced off late on and replaced by Coates.

 

Suarez went off at the same time, I have no idea what happened to him but it looked like something happened to him off the ball and he hobbled off. I've been told that Huth stood on his foot. Could have been an accident as he's a clumsy big bastard. Could have been deliberate as he plays for Stoke.

 

I thought we defended brilliantly aside from that one first half blemish that saw them score. Carragher and Skrtel were faultless, both did their jobs superbly. I could have gone for either of those as the star man, but there was one player who stood head and shoulders above everyone else I thought. Not literally, as he was the smallest player on the park in terms of stature. Performance wise however he was huge. Jay Spearing, take a bow. Another top drawer display.

 

We held on fairly comfortably despite Stoke having far more of the ball late on than you'd expect. We sat back a bit more than I thought necessary, but there were no real scares and we deservedly went through to a semi final against either Everton or Sunderland.

 

I don't care who we play, we should beat either side if we perform to the levels we have for most of the season and our finishing doesn't let us down. The important thing now is to put this on the back burner and try and pick up maximum points in the league between now and the semi final. And thankfully we've seen the last of Stoke for one season, the horrible bus parking alehouse bastards.

 

 

Team: Reina; Kelly (Coates), Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique; Maxi (Kuyt), Gerrard, Spearing, Downing; Suarez (Henderson), Carroll:

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As I said in a text to you a few months back, in this country we have bad refs, fucking shit refs, and then there's Kevin Friend.

 

He's a fucking joke that lad, he has to be. There's no way he's seriously a professional.

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A good report.

 

On the Crouch goal, technically it is a foul, and a Bolton goal under very similar circumstances was disallowed against us under Rafa for impeding the goalkeeper.

 

My view though is that Reina should/could have been more decisive.

 

Fortunatley the debate is nor crucial and we find ourselves in an FA Cup semi final - brilliant!

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There is no foul on Reina when Crouch scored. it happens all the time, and it's up field players to come and protect the keeper, but on that one it seems nobody cared and Reina should have anticipated the block.

 

That was ugly as expected against an ugly team. Kelly had his poorest game for us, weird.

 

What's wrong with Bellamy, is he injured ?

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Cheers, Dave.

 

From what I saw from the live coverage here:

 

1. Kevin Friend was totally utter shite. His team of officials as well.

2. I didn't think it was a foul on Reina when Crouch scored. It was just like when Agger scored against Utd when we put our big guys in front of De Gea. I wished Reina were more decisive.

3. Huth stepped on Suarez's achille. Hope it's not serious.

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The bit when Stoke got a free kick near the end and tried to roll it to someone for a shot, Spearing was out like the wall like lightning and through in a brilliant tackle. It summed up his performance for me, I thought he was brilliant.

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I said to my mate, watch out for some bizzare decisions Friend is the ref, he did not let me down, if there are any worse refs out there then I have yet to see them.

 

As always Dave a good read.

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The bit when Stoke got a free kick near the end and tried to roll it to someone for a shot, Spearing was out like the wall like lightning and through in a brilliant tackle. It summed up his performance for me, I thought he was brilliant.

 

This was the highlight of the match for me, aside from the two goals.

Delighted to see jay get another start after a great performance in the derby

He was very accomplished on the ball and never panics in tight situations and deserves to keep his place in the side now

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Huth stepping on Suarez definitely wasn't an accident. He had to make a longer stride than usual to reach Suarez but he did it when the ball was elsewhere so no one saw it.

 

Btw, did anyone else see Suarez imaginary booking Friend after one of the ridiculous decisions. I think it was just before half time. Funny as fuck.

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The TV coverage was ruined by Beglin's continuous anti-LFC bias and put downs. Then comments from Drury(?) about Suarez dividing opinion when he'd just been clearly fouled. Amazing when Roy Keane is the voice of reason

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I thought Stoke got forward more in the early stages of this game than they did for the entire game in January, and to some extent, maybe even the league game at their place too.

So I'm wondering if this took us by surprise and explained our poor start to the game.

Sometimes they even put something vaguely resembling passing movements together - now that must have surprised us!

Don't think they did much of anything though after we scored the second, I thought they'd put us under more pressure than that but they didn't have a clue.

Would surely have been even more comfortable if that maniac hadn't given them a corner for fuck all.

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As I said in a text to you a few months back, in this country we have bad refs, fucking shit refs, and then there's Kevin Friend.

 

He's a fucking joke that lad, he has to be. There's no way he's seriously a professional.

 

He's what Melchett on here would call a "spoon faced jeb end".

 

Melchett's boss.

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What the fuck? The guy (can't remember the fucker's name and don't particularly want to) stood in front of Reina and had one hand wrapped around him. Only one angle showed his arm preventing Pepe from moving but one arm was enough.

 

Ronnie, you "wish Reina was more decisive"? Purleasssse.

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The TV coverage was ruined by Beglin's continuous anti-LFC bias and put downs. Then comments from Drury(?) about Suarez dividing opinion when he'd just been clearly fouled. Amazing when Roy Keane is the voice of reason

 

totally agree, that cunt Beglin ruined the coverage the bias arse grape. Keane surprised as well, but his is trying his best to fuck slur off, if and when he can.

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What the fuck? The guy (can't remember the fucker's name and don't particularly want to) stood in front of Reina and had one hand wrapped around him. Only one angle showed his arm preventing Pepe from moving but one arm was enough.

 

Ronnie, you "wish Reina was more decisive"? Purleasssse.

 

it was Shotton and he had both arms outstretched behind him coralling Reina in, totally blatant foul.

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