Liverpool 0-0 Stoke: Jurgen Klopp's men held by determined Potters
Last Updated: 28/04/18 4:42pm
Stoke kept alive their slim hopes of Premier League survival with a 0-0 draw at an unusually lacklustre Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime.
Despite picking a strong side that included Mohamed Salah, Jurgen Klopp's men seemed to have one eye on their midweek Champions League trip to Roma as they mustered just two shots on target at Anfield.
Klopp's men had averaged a goal every 39 minutes at home this season but could only really point to a glaring one-on-one miss from Salah and a disallowed Danny Ings strike as clear-cut chances.
The result takes Stoke to within three points of safety, although Swansea - who host Chelsea in the late game on Saturday - have two games in hand. Stoke will only be able to reach a points total (36) that has - at best - guaranteed survival 50 per cent of the time over the past 10 Premier League seasons.
Liverpool: Karius (6), Alexander-Arnold (6), Van Dijk (6), Klavan (6), Gomez (6), Moreno (6), Henderson (6), Wijnaldum (7), Firmino (6), Salah (5), Ings (6).
Subs: Clyne (6), Milner (6)
Stoke: Butland (6), Bauer (7), Pieters (6), Zouma (8), Shawcross (7), Martins Indi (6), Ndiaye (7), Allen (6), Shaqiri (5), Diouf (5), Crouch (6)
Subs: Sobhi (6), Fletcher (6)
Man of the match: Kurt Zouma
Liverpool remain the only unbeaten side at home this season in England's top four tiers and if they avoid defeat against Brighton at Anfield in their final game, then it would be only the second time in 30 seasons that the Reds have gone an entire league season unbeaten at home.
There was a real collectors' item for Liverpool fans in the opening minutes as Salah raced through, one-on-one with Jack Butland, but lifted an effort wide of the post when he looked certain to score.
Salah then turned provider for Trent Alexander-Arnold, who only had Butland to beat from 10 yards but could not turn the ball home.
Sadio Mane had a slight injury so didn’t make the squad while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was out due to a knee injury. Andrew Robertson and James Milner dropped to the bench while Joe Gomez, Ragnar Klavan, Danny Ings and Georginio Wijnaldum came into the side. The only change for Stoke saw Kurt Zouma come in for former Liverpool defender Glen Johnson.
Stoke countered and almost broke the deadlock as a ball played right across the face of goal only just evaded a finishing touch from Mame Biram Diouf or Peter Crouch. Meanwhile, Ings had the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time but it was ruled out for offside.
Liverpool maintained their stranglehold of possession in the second period but Stoke - with Darren Fletcher added to their midfield, replacing Crouch - were well organised and rarely troubled.
For a team that have scored 128 goals across all competitions this season, Liverpool looked short on ideas, although they had a good shout for a handball inside the area by Erik Pieters, which was turned down.
The visitors saw out the final stages very comfortably.
Stoke, who could have nicked it late on through Ryan Shawcross, have still never won a top-tier fixture away at Liverpool in 55 attempts (D12 L43) but this could be a season-saving result.
- Liverpool failed to score at Anfield in the league for the first time in nine games (since a 0-0 draw v West Brom in December), after scoring 27 in total in the eight before that.
- The Reds mustered 20 shots without finding the back of the net, their biggest haul without scoring at Anfield in the league since April 2014 (26 v Chelsea).
- Paul Lambert has taken charge of more Premier League games at Anfield without ever losing than any other manager in the competition (5 - W2 D3).
- Salah mustered seven shots in the game (none on target), the most he has had without scoring in a single game for Liverpool in all competitions.
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Trent Alexander-Arnold started positively in a new role for Liverpool on the right of midfield. However, after suffering a dead leg his influence faded and he was replaced after 65 minutes. Jordan Henderson managed to complete the game. after an injury scare in the first half when he twisted his ankle. Joe Gomez was solid enough in defence but failed to make much of an impact going forward down the right side.
Jurgen Klopp: "I take the point. It's an important point, we need another three and we have two games to get them in. If football is fair then we will take these three points. It was an acceptable performance, we can play much better, but we had to make a few changes."
Paul Lambert: "We have to fight and we have a chance. Everybody has written off us but we have a chance. It won't be for the faint-hearted.
"The players have given me absolutely everything since I walked in the door, if the team had played like that throughout the season there is no way Stoke would be in this position and I certainly wouldn't be here."
Man of the match - Kurt Zouma
"We deserved the draw," said the Stoke centre-back, whose individual performance stood out in a solid defensive showing from the visitors. Zouma kept Roberto Firmino and Salah very quiet with some strong tackling and was there to clear danger in the final stages when Liverpool went a bit more direct. The on-loan Chelsea man will have plenty of suitors this summer if the west Londoners allow him to leave.
Liverpool travel to face Roma on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final, holding a 5-2 advantage from Anfield. Meanwhile, Stoke face Crystal Palace, live on Sky Sports Premier League, next Saturday lunchtime.