Spyin' Kop - Liverpool vs Stoke

Posted by Matt8Pie on January 12, 2012, 04:11:38 PM

Liverpool             vs             Stoke

Saturday 14th January

It's been almost a year since Stoke last visited Anfield and when our new star striker Luis Suarez was unleashed onto the Premier League scoring his first goal for the club on his debut. Liverpool ran out comfortable 2-0 winners with another strike from Raul Meireles. The two clubs have clashed twice since with Stoke protecting a 1-0 lead at home in the league against a constant Liverpool onslaught, and the Reds came from behind in the Carling Cup courtesy of two Luis Suarez goals to send us to the Quarter Finals.

For this week's Spyin' Kop, I visited The Oatcake and 1863, two of Stoke's main forums on the internet. I was met with a bit of hostility as I expected given the recent media uproar against our club and city but if there's anything we've learnt in the past week since the Tom Adeyemi incident, it's not to pigeon hole a whole fanbase into one category because of a small minority and I was met largely with a positive response from some decent guys and girls. They gave me some very good, educated answers about their team and hopefully will do again in future meetings between the clubs.

I've had a lot of answers from them and wish I could put them all up but then it would be too long for you guys to read (it's long enough already...) so I've put a link to the two pages if you want to have a look at the rest of the answers yourselves. I have, however, included a larger portion of their answers in the questions about racism in football as I thought it would be quite interesting to see what other clubs and fans make of it all, and indeed a club who had their own racism problems in the past and even had one of their supporters punished three years ago for racially abusing a Blackpool player. I didn't find their answers surprising, given that it had nothing to do with their club and they wouldn't take much interest in someone else's affairs so wouldn't have been that bothered about educating themselves on the matter as much as we would.  I think it shows that many have formed their opinions based on what the media have said and it shows how powerful they have been in this whole mess.

Anyway, enjoy and thanks to all those that took part.

1. To begin with, you currently sit in 8th place in the league and have had what appears to be an enjoyable European campaign too bar a couple of results. What've you made of your season so far? Have you relished being back in Europe after a long absence?

GazSCFC - I'm extremely pleased with our season so far, I expected us to struggle with being in Europe but we have coped well, the exceptions being the league games after our Euro away trips, some shocking losses, but since being in the Prem we have sort of learned to accept away defeats.

caerwrangonpotter - Season has been good so far & if we hadnt had our major post Europa Away Day blips, we could even be a little higher. Europe....loving it!

The Boring Bastard - Yes, its bloody incredible. How are you enjoying Europe this year?

A.D.Faye.God - Europe has been amazing, this season has certainly lived up to all of my expectations and then some. Not all plain sailing though, some terrible results and very lacklustre performances along the way, but great season so far, particularly as we are joint top of the 8-game form table!

2. What are your aspirations for the second half of the season and where do you want to finish, realistically? Do you feel you're currently on target for the goals you set yourselves at the beginning of the season?

Mystical Descent - Our goals at the start of the season will have been a good, mid-table finish and at least one good cup run. We're still in two cups and sitting 8th in the league. We'll probably go out of Europe against Valencia, but there's no good reason why we couldn't get to Wembley again. I think we're well capable of doing that and getting a 10th place finish.

Time4aPINT - We have a good chance of a top half finish and have done well so far in Europe. So far, so good.

A.D.Faye.God - Top half with 50+ points and Iíll be happy. 8th or higher and Iíll be delighted
Cups wise, Quarter finals in Europe and FA would be amazing, although getting past Valencia is a real task for us.
Also, your lot knocking us out of the League Cup was annoying Ė I really fancied that this year, Wembley, a trophy and Europe are always more likely there than anywhere else for us I feel, particularly in the 40th anniversary of Ď72

3. What's the best thing about being a Stoke fan, and what's the worst?

Uncle Child-Catcher - The best thing about being a Stoke fan at the moment is going into games against Arsenal and Liverpool with a little bit of hope of coming away with something - I still remember having away days at places like Rotherham and thinking that we've got no hope.

Premiershit mr_daftburger - Sense of pride in your local team, others (I'm talking new fan Sky generation) media led perceptions of us.

Gibby1409 - The best thing for me, is the whole experience of feeling involved in the club. I was there in the 70's, and it was amazing. I never thought I'd see these days back again, so I'm relishing every minute of it. The worst thing, this is the stigma that one or two of the blinkered media, who label us a being "Big, Strong & Dirty" The first two, yes, for sure, but check the diciplinary table for teams worse than us (Arsenal for one!!!)

caerwrangonpotter - Best...being everyone else's Public Enemies (even though a lot of "other" clubs do admire what we have done) Worst....The same old same old views from some London based hacks. Stuff em!

4. Forgive me if I'm wrong. Didn't Pulis say a few years ago that once Stoke were established in the Premier League that he would change your style of play from what we've grown to associate with you? Do you feel the need to change, would you like to see something different or do you think it's a case of go with what works?

GazSCFC - Pulis is a fucking legend, I would have him at the club until the day he dies.

March4 - The tip tap experiments are now over and we will pursue our agenda of utilising the most effective method of playing football by bringing in bigger, stronger, faster, fitter players.

Gibby1409 - I think we are evolving year on year, without losing our identity. I watched us beat Villa on ESPN from 2008 before Christmas, and was shocked how basic we looked, and this was on the highlights! So I thinkwe are evolving, and slowly but surely, becoming a force in this league.

DrEvil - I believe that we have changed our style of play. sure we are not barcelona but we definatly play better than we are percieved by the media witch hunt. we still have our throws and direct football but we can also mix it up and play with quality. Weve been branded a long ball team by lazy journalism when it is no longer valid or fair.

5. One of our former players joined you in the summer and he's one I've always rated and was a bit gutted we sold him in the first place, to be honest. What have you made of Peter Crouch so far and what impact has he had for you? What sets him apart from the other target men we've seen operate up front for you in recent seasons?

PerCyfilth Ö.Captains Log - Wasnt sure but he is a class act with a bit more finesse than the crash bang wallop no touch we have had, Fuller apart.

Chiefie - class - he can control the ball for a start and hold it up fantastically

The Boring Bastard - He has alot of skill on the ball, everytime he heads it it goes straight to a player in red and white, he's got a few goals, looks happy and is generally a perfect player for us.

A.D.Faye.God - An absolute revelation. He started off good and has gotten better and better. His distribution/hold up play is great Ė our ball retention is noticeably better with him on the pitch. He is chipping in with a few goals, which is always a good thing, great head to have in the dressing room, and although its becoming something of a clichť, heís better with his feet than his head.

6. This month's transfer window is open. Do you think you'll strengthen? What areas do you feel you need to improve in and what sort of players would you like to see come in?

MysticalDescent - We'll bring in players because we need to. Apparently we're after more strikers, possibly because of the injury to Sidibe. We need cover for the flanks and a new player who can play left-back.

Stokeyhunter - I do feel we still need to strengthen and bring in a fullback and a back up winger. This season when Etherington or Pennant haven't played/lacked form we've struggled so we need to bring somebody in.

Uncle Child-Catcher - I think we will, knowing Pulis it will probably be another couple of central defenders. I'm hoping for a couple of decent full-backs so he doesn't have to keep playing central defenders there.

7. Your home support since you've been in the Premier League has been brilliant and it's widely acknowledged among the footballing world as being one of the best in the country. We've had a bit of a decline in our home support over the past few years vocally. What's your secret?

March4 - We have focussed the scorn that has been poured on our club by many commentators into a unifying force that makes us so proud of what 'little old Stoke' are achieving. Proverbially sticking 2 fingers up to certain managers and their clubs has become our favourite pastime.

Gibby1409 - Passion, and a desire not to fall back into the bad times. We can moan for England us Stokies, and argue among ourselves until we are blue in the face. But woe betide anyone who tries to have a go at our club, our players, or us as supportes, because we all go shoulder to shoulder and say "Come on Then" lol

Time4aPINT - You have too many tourists at Anfield.

DrEvil - The club and players have always been so close to the fans. Stoke city is a big community and this is key for atmosphere. When at the britannia we are fighting for our team as they fight for us. Its sort of like siege mentality. There is nothing like giving the lads your support. Plus you need to stand and sing cause the britannia is bloody freezing.

Stokeyhunter - Our noise has declined over recent seasons as well but i always notice when things are going against us the fans rally behind the lads and the noise levels rise. Incidents such as a terrible ref decision is a perfect example.

8a. I'm a bit adverse to talk about it but I feel as it's a hot topic at the moment, I should. We've been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently and I sincerely hope that a tiny minority haven't given us an unfounded nationwide label. From your personal experiences, do you think racism in football is as big a problem that has been made out by the media?

caerwrangonpotter - Its something that has never gone & I really doubt will ever go.

Gibby1409 - Not in my eyes. As I mentioned earlier, I was around in the 70's, and then racism was a huge part of the game. Whereas now, and this is a general statement, I think it's the odd mindless idiot who brings their club into disrepute. The media will then jump on this, and make it sound like racism is rife, which I disagree with.

Premiershit mr_daftburger - There are racists at every ground and we have our fair share. We had 9 BNP councillors don't you know!

DrEvil - Racism in football isnt no where near as big of a problem as the media make out. The matter has been amplified by the media demonsing football fans. It is obviously a very small stupid minority who choose to be racist and they are condemmed by the majority of football fans the same as everyone else in society.

PerCyfilth Ö.Captains Log - Yes it is, there are morons in most crowds who continue to shout racist remarks and are not removed by stewards who are more interested in watchin the match and throwing folk out who just stand up.

Chiefie - Suarez and liverpool should have apologised and then it would have been done with - i don't think he's a racist or any real fan

The Boring Bastard - No, it is a problem at the moment that has been created by LFC and one of its vile, cheating scumbags. The way the club dealt with it was pathetic, the way the fans responded was pathetic and the pre-match shirts at Wigan was almost like the club support racism.

A.D.Faye.God - The most appalling thing Iíve seen in this whole saga that doesnít appear to have been picked up in the press was the apparent singing of Suarezís name when Tom Odeyemi was getting abuse the other night. That was sickening.
Having said that, Liverpool is a proud club, that clearly has its idiots (just like us) but should not be written off as racist. Racism is clearly still around. Its better than it was, but now is the time to stamp hard on any instances, so as it does not fester and grow once more in my books. There certainly is far less racist chanting in the stands on anecdotal evidence, and it is normally met with disgust/disdain at any game I attend.
All that being said the worst thing Liverpool have done was allow the players to wear those shirts when warming up. Stupid and offensive. Your fans would be well advised to limit the support of Suarez as well in my book, but it is somewhat understandable that you do not want to isolate/shun your best (by a mile) player!

Stokeyhunter - I don't think it is a serious problem in this country, if you compare it to other countries, the problem is there have been several incidents in a short space off time which have been built up to make English football seem a racist game

Time4aPINT - The media are making the most of it at the moment but it does highlight that there is still a problem.

Uncle Child-Catcher - I don't think it is as big a problem as has been made out in the media but I think it has been put under an intense spotlight because of the awful PR at Liverpool.
I don't think Suarez is racist but everybody involved with Liverpool should have just accepted the ban. They should have got Suarez to apologise to Evra, used his nationality and culture (baring in mind he hasn't been in this country long) as an excuse to sweep it under the carpet with a statement about learning from his mistakes in this country, then I'm convinced that nobody would be even talking about it being a problem in the game here.
The statements have made Liverpool look racist or deluded and that white Suarez t-shirt looks like the opposite of the 'Kick It Out' campaign t-shirt (what were they thinking wearing that before the game like players wear the 'Kick It Out' one?) Oh and singing the Suarez song after a player was in distress after being racially abused by people in the crowd was ill-timed - it's pretty much a racist song now; that can't have been good for Suarez's defence.

MalvernStokie - Football is a refreshing hub of cruel and cutting humour. It may not be right but it's there. I doubt Wenger has ever fiddled with small boys, but that's what other teams' fans accuse him of. And I doubt that most Liverpool fans are racists, but the damage is now done. Welcome to Klanfield, home of the Ku Klux Kop - it's not right but you're stuck with it.

8b. In regards to the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra case, did you read the 115 page document released by the FA related to the verdict? If so, what did you make of the findings?

Gibby1409 - I didn't read it, but looking from the outside in, and this could be massively unfair, but he comes over as being the kind of person who would do and say something like this. I also think the both Liverpool as a club, and Kenny as the manager, did themselves no favours with their responses since the hearing

DrEvil - Did i fuck  im not concerned about the suarez case, all i care is he isnt playing for the stoke game

PerCyfilth Ö.Captains Log - Yes i read it. Suarez evidence was self incriminating he said he used the N word but only once. Once is one too many in this country and ignorance is no defence.

The Boring Bastard - didn't read it, but gather that it clearly states Suarez used the word 'negrito'. If this is true, his ban is fair.

A.D.Faye.God - I agreed with the FAís original verdict. I think he said what h said and heí s earning thousands of pounds a day to play football in England, he should have realised that use of the terms he used is unacceptable here. (I also believe that the only reason those terms are more socially acceptable in Spanish speaking nations is that many have a much larger issue with racism).
I think an eight game ban is perfectly reasonable. I hope John Terry gets at least that (as well as getting nowhere near the England captaincy). The way I see it if he said it in the stands he wouldnít be allowed back at Anfield full-stop. He should take his ban, apologise, donate his wages for this period to Kick Racism Out of Football, shut-up and be grateful.
No I didnít read the verdict by the way. I honestly donít see why I would as a non-Liverpool fan, sorry.

Stokeyhunter - I can't really comment on the document itself as i've only read a few quotes from the document but i do believe South America/Spanish footballers need to realise what is acceptable in their countries isn't in our country.

Time4aPINT - No didn't read it but Liverpool need to shut up and accept it. Racism is a criminal offence inside a football ground, so he has got off lightly.

Uncle Child-Catcher - I didn't read the whole document, just saw the summary of it on the news. I think it looked like it pissed all over Liverpool's first statement in defence of Suarez - they had no choice but to accept the 8 matches with a bit of egg on their face... they should have just stopped there though, no more hole-digging statements or comments.

Lew86 - Heís said what heís said and heís learned the hard way that itís an unacceptable term / phrase in this part of the world. Liverpool could have avoided the flak theyíve had by accepting whatís happened and trying to resolve it in house rather than coming out with the shit they have done. Because of this Iíve lost whatever respect I had with your club to be honest. As for Suarez, heíll start back from where he left off, a very talented yet whiny, diving footballer. Itíll be very interesting to see his debut back, it couldnít have been against anyone else.

DharmaBum - I didn't read it. For what it's worth, whilst I believe that what Suarez said, was racist, I don't believe he is a racist. Liverpool FC have let their fans down badly with their response, though, and this whole affair has tarnished your club's reputation. Some people might say you needed a better PR team, I say you just needed someone with a bit of common sense and perspective.

GnosallPotter - I only read the prťcised version, it appeared to me that Suarez accepting he said what he said, made him guilty, rather than substantial physical evidence proving him guilty. Sets a dangerous precedent if in future the accused (whoever they may be) denies the allegations. What the hell happens then?

HCHPotter - No. I wouldnít trust Evra as far as I could throw him after his antics in the last world cup. Suarez is a ticking time bomb. Good footballer but a cheat (as he was in Holland). What he said might be acceptable at home but it is not in Europe. If he wants European wages rather than Uruguyan wages then he plays by Europeís rules.

MeltonJohn - Read bits yes. Thought it was very thorough and outcome fair. I don't think Suarez is an out an out racist but he was naive and foolish

MalvernStokie - No, but from all that I heard, 8 games is not unreasonable. It's not just him and his language; if he gets away with it, it legitimises anyone from anywhere doing the same

9. Onto the game then. We finally proved we could do it on a cold midweek night in Stoke back in October. How confident are you of getting a result coming to Anfield on Saturday?

caerwrangonpotter - More chance of me getting 6 numbers on the lottery

Gibby1409 - Not overly confident! However, if we are on our game, we could frustrate you lot, and end up nicking it! One nil Crouchy with a overhead kick from a part cleared throw in!

DrEvil - that was the league cup. still havnt done it in the league although you did play well. Its well documented stoke arnt the best of teams away so playing at anfield will be tough for us. Although our record has improved recently. I think a point would be a good result for us.

A.D.Faye.God - But not in the league!
Confident isnít the word Iíd use. Iíd be happy with a point, honestly canít call it. It depends a lot on what Stoke side turns up. Play like we did at Blackburn (aside from dodgy set-play defence) and Iíll be hopeful. Turn up like we did against Man City and you should bring an abacus.

10. What players do you see as your dangermen?

The Boring Bastard - Crouch obviously, Etherington against Johnson could be interesting.

MysticalDescent - If we play well and win, then it's likely that Etherington and Pennant will have been involved. Walters brings our whole game together, but he looks exhausted.

StokeyHunter - Crouch, as mentioned above, or the threat from Robert Huth from set pieces.

11. What players of ours are you worried about?

Time4aPINT - gerrard and bellamy is still a good player.

GazSCFC - I would be worried about Suarez, but his vicious tongue has done us a favour. Gerrard of course, he is just fucking amazing and can win games on his own.

caerwrangonpotter - All 11....

March4 - Interesting question. The obvious answer is suspended. Can I make a request that Charlie Adam plays as he has been one of our best players this season.

Gibby1409 - Gerrard is the obvious one, I think Kuyt is underated, and Glen Johnson coming forward is always a threat, as indeed is Enrique. Glad Suarez isn't playing!

12. What kind of approach do you think you'll adopt at Anfield? Do you think you play in a different way when you play away from home? We certainly have to try play a different way when we come to Stoke thanks to the more narrow pitch, for example.

DrEvil - Definatly will be a defensive edge to us. Pulis wont go attacking against the bigger clubs away. Expect a 5 3 2 of some kind.

Chiefie - defend and hope to only be one down after 70 minutes

The Boring Bastard - We'll try and get forward a bit but the majority of the match will be dominated by Liverpool. We will need another one of our superb defensive masterclasses I feel, like we did against you in our first Premiership season.

13. What do you make of Liverpool's season so far?

A.D.Faye.God - A little yo-yo from the outside. I canít stand Dalgliesh, although I can see why you love him. I think the cups are really important to you lot this season, you seem to have been pushed out of the top 6 all of a sudden, a little bit in no-manís land, which I guess is why I havenít been as aware of Liverpool as in previous seasons. You have just wasted so much money.

MysticalDescent - I'd think you're a bit disappointed. You've not really pushed the top four this season, as I thought you might, and you're not even really looking any better than Arsenal. I was expecting a little better from you, really.

The Boring Bastard - Apart from the Suarez thing its been pretty good.

March4 - Impressed both times at the Brit. Thought you would be closer to the top spot. Well organised and prepared to move the ball quickly. A danger to us in the FA Cup, once you have won in the 4th round

14. It's been a year to the week at the point of writing this that Kenny Dalglish has been manager at Liverpool again. What are your impressions of the job he's done in the past year?

Gibby1409 - Doing a good job. As a player, Kenny was one of my favourite players, and I did enjoy his battles with Ferguson when he was manager at Blackburn. So yes, I'm glad he's back, and you only need to watch his resonse when your playing to see how much it means to him! (If you hadn't binned Hodgson, you would have been in deep shit now!!)

DrEvil - I certainly think he has steadied the ship and is probably the right man for the job. Definatly an improvement in Liverpool performances the past year. Will he be able to get you back into the champions league year in year out. Im not sure.

PerCyfilth Ö.Captains Log - He has done ok but spending £75Mill he should.

15. A fairly obligatory, but interesting question. Out of Liverpool's current squad, what 2 players would you like to see at Stoke? To make it a bit more interesting, you're not allowed Gerrard!

The Boring Bastard - Errrrrrrr, Lucas and Enrique. But I would have Gerrard obvs.

A.D.Faye.God - Kuyt and Lucas. Not the most glamorous players but would slot in and push us on no end. Canít think of two who would do that much better to be honest.

Mystical Descent - I'd have Reina in a flash. He's an excellent goalkeeper. I'm in two minds between Lucas and Kuyt for the other player, as they'd suit us down to the ground. Jose Enrique is just the left-back we're crying out for.

StokeyHunter - Dirk Kuyt. He has the workrate any Stoke player needs to play for the club but he also has a bit of quality we're maybe missing but the problem with Kuyt is his age. I know i've mentioned him above for not justifying his price tag but i do rate Downing as a very good player and he would be a threat on his day for any team.

Time4aPINT - Kuyt and Lucas

Uncle Child-Catcher - Enrique - we need a fullback. Kuyt - would suit us down to the ground.

16. On the flipside, what 1 player from Stoke are you hoping doesn't make the team sheet on Saturday?

Gibby1409 - Kenwynne! He can be so frustrating, because at the end of last season, I thought we are finally seeing the best of the big fella, but it hasn't continued, and he can look lazier than he really is, which get's him loads of stick from the crowd.

PerCyfilth Ö.Captains Log - Diao

Premiershit mr_daftburger - Woodgate (If you have a tricky left winger. It'll be OK if Downing plays! )

Uncle Child-Catcher - Carlo Nash, because he's our 3rd choice keeper

17. What kind of game are you expecting?

PerCyfilth Ö.Captains Log - It wont be end to end thats for sure.

The Boring Bastard - One sided.

A.D.Faye.God - A little scrappy, hopefully with action at both ends. If Pennant and Crouch play they should have good games, hopefully Palacios will continue his recent improvement. If that happens, it should be even and well-fought. It could go horribly wrong at any point for us though Iím afraid!

18. Finally, your score prediction?

StokeyHunter - 2-0 Liverpool

Uncle Child-Catcher - Liverpool 2-0 Stoke

A.D.Faye.God - 1-1(1-2 with my red-and-white tinted glasses on, Crouch to score both)

DrEvil - 2-1 liverpool

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