Spyin' Kop - Liverpool vs. Stoke City - Sunday 7th October

Posted by StevenLFC on October 6, 2012, 09:08:11 AM

Liverpool v Stoke City
Sunday 7th October

Kick Off: 3pm

Liverpool head into Sunday's game at home to Stoke City on the back of a defeat to Udinese, which was our third consecutive home defeat. It's always tough to play Stoke, although our record in recent home games against them isn't bad at all. They haven't scored in each of their four Premier League visits to Anfield - there have been two 0-0 draws, as well as 2-0 and 4-0 Liverpool victories. In fact, in 49 top flight visits to Anfield, Stoke have never won (39 defeats, 10 draws).

Still, it won't be an easy game for Brendan Rodgers and his Liverpool side, especially having played a tough game less than 72 hours prior to kick off. Stoke come onto the game on the back of an impressive 2-0 against Swansea.

To get the view of the opposition fans I spoke to stokie_bloke from Potters-online.com & RAWK's resident Stoke City supporter StokieSteve:

1. How do you feel your season has gone so far?

Stokie_bloke: Far better than we could have expected, what with having Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea in our opening 6 matches. Chelsea is our only loss so far and we could have got something from that game too. Our play is 'evolving' with the new signings and more pleasing on the eye as a result. More on that later.

StokieSteve: Only ok I would say. I think we should have at least two more points than we currently have.

2. What were your expectations heading into the season? Have they changed after seeing how your side has performed so far?

Stokie_bloke: There was a degree of nervousness leading into the new season, with the general consensus that we were desperate for an out and out goal scorer. Many felt that if we didn't strengthen in key areas, particularly the midfield, we could well struggle. What we didn't expect at all was the sudden and unprecedented influx of so many midfield players in the transfer window i.e. Cameron, Adam, Edu and N'Zonzi. The acquisition of Adam and N'Zonzi, in particular, towards the end of the window heralded a sea change for us in the way we began to approach matches. We held our breath to see whether this meant a change in style and, sure enough, recent matches have seen us playing with far more confidence in the middle of the park. As a result we're creating more chances.

StokieSteve: Expectations are still mid table right now, we are improving but slowly I feel.

3. You made a few signings this summer, how have they settled in?

Stokie_bloke: Adam isn't fully fit, but is contributing well to the new look midfield. Cameron ( USA International) started off in midfield and looks cool and composed. Recently he has dropped back to right back following Wilkinson's suspension and has demonstrated his versatility by taking it in his stride. Good player. Kightly has made the wing position his own and has displaced Pennant and keeping Etherington on the bench in our new system.Owen & Edu haven't really kicked a ball yet. Jamie Ness is one for the future and won't feature too much this season. The big bonus has been N'Zonzi. The guy is a beast and the player we thought Palacios was going to be last year.

StokieSteve: Very well. Everyone who plays for Stoke has to be a team player and give 100% They do that.

4. You have a few ex-Liverpool players in your squad now; Pennant, Owen, Adam and Crouch, how are they doing for Stoke?

Stokie_bloke: Pennant can't get in the squad at present. Pulis seems to have decided that playing 2 out and out wingers is a luxury that leaves us too open. As I've said, Kightly currently has the one wing place and his work rate justifies his inclusion right now over Etherington. It appears Pulis may have lost a little patience with Pennant who will need to up his game to get back in. Adam is doing OK and is certainly a style of player we have desperately needed i.e. one that can pass a ball and isn't afraid to have a go at goal ( our stats for efforts on goal from our midfield was pretty embarrassing last term). He's currently playing the advanced role behind Crouch and, when his fitness levels improve, I think he'll be a major bonus to the team. Owen, as we all know, needs to get and stay fit. What HAS happened is that his arrival seems to have given Walters a kick up the backside and his performances have picked up no end. That leaves the one and only Peter Crouch. It's fair to say, whilst very popular with most of the fans, there was a feeling last season that his inclusion had unsettled a team that had reached the Cup Final the season before. Voices of discontent argued that our playing style was too one dimensional, being built around Crouch's particular style. It went quieter after THAT goal v Man City and he ended up player of the Year. He's started this season on fire and is clearly benefiting from the extra support from midfield. Arguably unlucky not to get his place back in the England set up.

StokieSteve: Crouch is the stand out player. He loves it here and he scores goals. Pennant was good early on, Adam is doing ok, and Owen has hardly played so far. We need more time to evaluate.

5. Your side does have this 'anti-football' tag placed upon it by opposition players, managers and fans. Why do you think that is, and is it fair?

Stokie_bloke: The "anti - football" tag is harsh and, somewhat lazy. The argument that we are an overly physical team isn't born out at all by the stats. Yes, our style has been direct, but usually our detractors have come from those teams that have come unstuck at our hands when they were clearly expecting to pass us to death. I'm pretty sure other teams would like some of our work ethic. As I say, it will be interesting whether the same criticism continues to be levelled at us as the season progresses.

StokieSteve: I don't think it is fair really. Stoke play to their strengths which give any team problems. It's up to the opposition to beat us.

6. We've lost three consecutive home games heading into our match, are you confident of taking anything away from Anfield?

Stokie_bloke: I'm NEVER confident of getting anything at Anfield! The 3 defeats stat is misleading as you certainly didn't deserve to lose against Man Utd. Arsenal, whether we like it or not, are a good side who will be right up there this season. The Udinese result did surprise me, but you're clearly a different team with Suarez and Gerrard starting. I'd take a draw right now. We need to keep Suarez quiet...and we haven't managed to do that at all so far! He must love playing against us.

StokieSteve: Definitely think we can get a point. No disrespect.

7. As an outsider, what do you make of our new manager Brendan Rodgers? How do you see Liverpool now, and how do you think they'll do in the future?

Stokie_bloke: I don't know what to make of Rodgers, to be honest. His much lauded Swansea team were the most boring team we saw at the Brit last season. Passing for the sake of it and without an end result tends to frustrate the life out of me ( probably says more about me as a Stoke fan?). What was really noticeable was that, despite us cruising to the most simple 2-0 victory you could imagine, he never tried to alter his tactics at all. I wonder whether he has the ability to turn to a plan B? That having been said, you've got to admire someone who is so principled in his belief as to how the game should be played, I suppose. I just wonder whether the Anfield faithful will stick with him if the results don't start to pick up soon. Liverpool are clearly in transition and if you buy fully into Rodgers' philosophy, with the better players you've got, and with the exciting crop of talented youngsters you've got coming through, I'm sure you'll soon climb the table. Obviously failing to buy a striker is a massive blunder and God help you if Suarez gets injured. I'd still expect a top 6 finish. As I say, it all depends whether you start to panic if the results waver even more.

StokieSteve: Not sure about him. Not sure he's the right man. You have great players, Liverpool always have had. But hand on heart, I don't know if he is any good for Liverpool FC.

8. How do you think Tony Pulis will set your side out on Sunday?

Stokie_bloke: If you look at our team sheet for the last 2 matches, I'd expect much of the same. Crouch on his own up front, supported by a 5 man midfield. Adam the nearest support, with Walters and Kightly operating as old style wing backs. Whelan and N'Zonzi as holding midfielders in front of our rock steady back 5 (I'll regret saying that now!).

StokieSteve: Probably how he usually does to be honest. He's trying to build this team very slowly, and he will do what is necessary to grab a point. I believe that is what he will play for.

9. Care to make a prediction?

Stokie_bloke: Heart says 2-1 to Stoke (our fortune must change at Anfield at some point, surely). Head says 1-1, if we keep Suarez quiet.

StokieSteve: 1-1. Good luck!

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