Premier League - Liverpool frustrated by stubborn Stoke

Sat, 14 Jan 16:58:00 2012

Liverpool were held to a goalless draw at home by Stoke City in a dreary Premier League encounter at Anfield as Kenny Dalglish's side again failed to win at home.

Liverpool 0 Stoke 0

It was their seventh home draw in 11 matches this season but not for lack of trying: Liverpool dominated possession though did not create as many chances as they should, the best of which saw an unmarked Dirk Kuyt head wide.

The hosts had three late penalty appeals rejected too, although they were relatively soft and would have been harsh on a spirited and well-drilled Stoke side.

A fairly dreary first half saw Liverpool - turning out with wingbacks in a 5-4-1 formation that had no place for Andy Carroll - dominate possession but largely remain frustrated by their visitors.

Charlie Adam had an early chance but knew little about it, Martin Skrtel’s flick from a corner hitting him on the back of the leg from close range, while Skrtel again turned provider as a wicked low cross just evaded the Scottish midfielder.

Stoke had a couple chances of their own when Matthew Etherington first scuffed one wide and then forced a decent stop from Pep Reina from good positions.

But it was all Liverpool, although - aside from a fizzing drive over by Stewart Downing - their possession was blunted somewhat by some poor final balls by the likes of Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson, with lone striker Kuyt somewhat isolated and denied one opportunity by a saving challenge from Ryan Shawcross.

Liverpool showed more direct intent to start the second half as Glen Johnson had an effort blocked by Marc Wilson; Stoke were sitting deeper and deeper, Peter Crouch and Jon Walters barely touching the ball as the half progressed.

Finally Kuyt was given the support he needed as Carroll came on, but Downing was sacrificed, meaning Liverpool were sticking to their wingback guns.

Carroll’s first major act was negative though as he inadvertently blocked what would have been a spectacular volley from Henderson.

And despite all the possession, despite all the territory, Sorensen in the Stoke goal had little to keep him occupied, aside from plucking the odd high ball from the sky.

Liverpool threw Craig Bellamy on in the latter stages, though the two penalty claims they saw rejected in succession by Howard Webb involved Carroll and Kuyt as - during and following a corner - they went down under the attentions of Shawcross and Jonathan Woodgate respectively.

Stoke had everyone behind the ball now and one of those defenders almost gifted Kuyt a winner – Jose Enrique put in a low cross that deflected heavily off Woodgate to land sweetly for the unmarked Dutchman, who somehow headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

The hosts had another penalty appeal rejected when Carroll and Andy Wilkinson tangled on the edge of the box, while Kuyt headed wide soon afterward albeit from a tight angle.

They were piling it on – Carroll almost finding fellow substitute Craig Bellamy with a cross and Skrtel heading over from the subsequent corner – but they could not break Stoke down and, while unbeaten at home, this goes down as another two points dropped for the Reds, who stay sixth but could be overtaken by Newcastle United.

Reda Maher - on Twitter @Reda_Maher / Eurosport

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