Yesterday Stoke City travelled to Anfield to take on Liverpool. I was eagerly looking forward to the match and arranged my day so that I would be free to settle down and watch the game on my computer.
My usual source of livestream is ATDHE.net. I clicked on the Web site and was greeted by the following message by AOL: “This domain has been seized by ICE — Homeland Security Investigations.” I wonder what that is all about.
I have a back-up Web site and clicked on fromsport.com but the coverage was diabolical, the action kept freezing every two seconds. Matters improved a little after 20 minutes but it was still not an enjoyable experience.
The coverage of the game matched Stoke’s performance. With one man up front, and with a side that is basically devoid of skill, class and guile, it was pretty clear from the start that Stoke were hardly likely to threaten the Liverpool goal.
The team selection by Stoke manager Tony Pulis almost defied belief.
There comes a point in a footballer’s career when they become an embarrassment to not only themselves but also the fans, the club and football in general. That point has been reached by Salif Diao who was later substituted by a player of similar standing — Rory Delap.
Manager Pulis selects Delap week in and week out. One can only assume that Delap holds some incriminating digital photo files on the hard drive of his laptop. He certainly does not justify a regular place in the team based on ability. Even in his cameo appearance yesterday afternoon, Delap was woeful but he will probably be the first name on the team sheet for Saturday’s encounter with Sunderland.
Stoke went into half-time with the score at 0-0 but goalkeeper Begovic’s two outstanding saves were warning of what was likely to happen in the second half.
And so it proved as Liverpool struck in the 47th minute. A ball into the penalty area was not cleared and Raul Meireles drove the ball home from eight yards out. As far as Stoke were concerned it was effectively game over.
And yet with the introduction of Ricardo Fuller and the ball being played to feet rather than in the air, a better footballing side than Stoke may have scored an equalizer, which would have made for an interesting final 25 minutes.
With the introduction of Liverpool’s midweek signing, Uruguay international striker Luis Suarez, Liverpool took control and sealed victory. Suarez latched on to a through ball from Kuyt, rounded the onrushing Begovic and stroked the ball towards the unguarded goal. Stoke’s Andy Wilkinson raced back to make a valiant effort to clear the ball and should have but somehow managed to send it against the upright. The ball flew across the face of the goal and spun into the back of the net.
It was not a happy afternoon from a Stoke fan’s point of view. The only consolation is that Liverpool spared us a goal onslaught. Before the match I believed we were in for a hammering, 4-0 or 5-0.
I don’t mind Stoke losing, but I do mind the manner in which they lose. Like the game at Fulham two weeks ago, they were dire and dismal and made no impact whatsoever. If Pulis presides over more inept performances like today’s I honestly fear for Stoke’s continued presence in the Premier League.