After The Match 


Liverpool-Stoke 0-0              20.9.08                                  PL
Team: Reina, Arbeloa, Dossena, Carragher, Skrtel, Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera, Alonso, Keane, Torres
Subs: Babel (Riera 65), Benayoun (Keane 73)
Not used: Cavalieri, Agger, Lucas, Degen, Mascherano
Yellow: Skrtel (85)           Fuller (90)
Red: None
Referee: Andre Marriner
Attendance: 43,931


Shots on target: 6-0
Shots off target: 18-1
Blocked shots: 6-1
Fouls conceded: 8-11
Corners: 19-3
Offsides: 1-3
Possession: 76-24
Yellow: 1-1


HEADLINES "I don't know how many attempts
we had..."
Rafael Benitez

2209: Rafa backing for strike duo
2209: Torres torment will prove a temporary loss
2109: Kuyt plays down goal drought
2009: Pulis hails stubborn Stoke
2009: Rafa: Massive mistake cost us
2009: Reds held by defiant Potters

Rafa backing for strike duo

Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez insists he is not concerned by the lack of goals from strikers Fernando Torres and Robbie Keane.

Spanish forward Torres has netted only one goal in seven appearances this season, while Keane has yet to open his account since joining from Tottenham in July and both struggled as Liverpool drew 0-0 with Stoke at Anfield on Saturday.

Torres scored 31 goals in all competitions in his first campaign in England after a big money move from Atletico Madrid in 2007, before firing Spain to European Championship glory this summer.

However, Torres and Keane - who netted 14 times in the Premier League last term - have found the going tough so far this term and Benitez admits confidence may become an issue.

But the Anfield boss believes Torres is still recovering from participating in Euro 2008, and is confident that the 24-year-old and Keane will soon rediscover their goalscoring touch.

"Torres returned from the Euros a month later than normal and will need more time to build up his strength and fitness," Benitez said in the Daily Mail.

"That doesn't help, but there were other problems against Stoke because he had no space and was under pressure all the time.

"Confidence becomes an issue with any striker when he is not scoring and it is clear Torres and Keane both need a goal.

"When it happens you will see a real difference."

Torres torment will prove
a temporary loss

Comment by Chris Beesley - Liverpool Daily Post

It’s difficult to work out what was the bigger shock at Anfield on Saturday – Stoke gaining a point or the strange feeling that certain sections among the Liverpool faithful are not happy with Fernando Torres’s form.

It’s not long since ‘El Nino’ could do no wrong it seemed.

As Liverpool’s record signing’s debut season in England went on, he just got better and better.

Torres finished the campaign with 24 Premier League goals to eclipse Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record for an overseas striker kicking-off his career on these shores and his overall total in all competitions was a mightily impressive 33.

Having quickly become a cult hero at Anfield with his own unique song and ‘bouncing’ dance in the stands, the former Atletico Madrid striker took his form onto the international stage over the summer, netting Spain’s winning goal in the European Championship final and in doing so ending his country’s 44-year wait for a major trophy.

Although Torres’s heroics in Austria and Switzerland meant that he and the rest of the victorious Spanish quartet in Liverpool’s squad returned late for pre-season training, he certainly looked up to speed by the time the Premier League’s opener came around a month ago.

Under pressure for long periods away against a much-improved Sunderland side, Liverpool pinched the points at the Stadium of Light thanks to another breathtaking piece of Torres brilliance.

Hardly given a sniff all evening, Liverpool’s number nine emerged from seemingly nowhere to crash home the winning goal with virtually his only shot on target of the game.

But amazingly for Liverpool and their most prized asset, who was bizarrely linked with a move to Chelsea over the summer and has more recently emerged as a rather fanciful target for nouveau riche Manchester City, five weeks on from his Wearside wonder strike, Torres has become the subject of some quiet rumblings of complaint from his adoring public as he has failed to add to his tally.

It would still be a brave, or indeed a foolish man, to back against a fully fit Torres breaking the 20-goal barrier again this season but just at this moment, the fact that the 24 years-old is a mere mortal is evident.

Whisper it carefully at Anfield because football has a habit of making you look stupid quickly if you write someone off prematurely, especially a frontman of such world class quality as Torres, but some are even daring to use phrases like “second season syndrome.”

Torres - and anybody else for that matter - were always going to play second fiddle to referee Andre Marriner when it came to being the villain of the piece in the eyes of Liverpool’s supporters following Saturday’s frustrating goalless draw with a newly-promoted Stoke City side already languishing in the relegation zone.

If the official hadn’t surprisingly disallowed what would have been Steven Gerrard’s 100th Liverpool goal in only the second minute, you imagine that the afternoon would have panned out extremely differently.

However, as the hosts huffed and puffed but were unable to blow the Potters’ defensive house down over the next 88 minutes plus, the chief culprit in front of goal was the normally clinical Torres.

Fed by compatriot Arbeloa, who is keeping new recruit Philipp Degen out with a string of assured performances in the right-back slot, Torres’s best opportunity came with a headed effort he normally would have buried, but on this occasion the ball sailed wide of the left-hand post.

Another two shots followed from the edge of the area but both flew over the bar and into the Kop as a resolute Stoke rearguard, who had leaked 11 goals in five previous games this term, dug deep to hold out for their first cleansheet of the season and the most welcome of Premier League points.

A niggling hamstring injury has hampered Torres’s campaign so far, a factor not lost on his manager Rafael Benitez who admits that neither his main striker or influential skipper Steven Gerrard are entirely 100% fit at the moment.

And although it may have been purely coincidental, unbeaten Liverpool’s worst Premier League result of the season so far came just a week after their best – a 2-1 success against English and European champions Manchester United, which was a first ever league win over their rivals from Old Trafford during Benitez’s reign.

The victory over Sir Alex Ferguson’s charges was all the more impressive because Torres did not figure but restored to the starting line-up in the Premier League against Stoke and both player and team faltered.

It’s highly unlikely that Torres will figure against Crewe Alexandra in Liverpool’s Carling Cup third round tie at Anfield tomorrow night so he has a week to get Saturday’s misses out of his system and work on his fitness in training.

After all, those dissenting voices among Liverpool’s supporters will soon be silenced if the Spaniard repeats his feat of six months ago and nets a winner in the Merseyside derby.

Even Dirk Kuyt managed that a year ago but then again a certain Robbie Keane is due a goal and perhaps Marriner’s shock decision to deny Gerrard was just giving Liverpool’s captain a bigger stage to grab his century in five days time?

Kuyt plays down goal drought

By Laura Slatcher - Sky Sports

Dirk Kuyt is convinced Fernando Torres and Robbie Keane will soon start scoring for Liverpool despite their goalless draw against relegation favourites Stoke.

Tony Pulis' well-organised Potters side forced an unlikely goalless draw after which Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez suggested his side "needed more ability in the box."

The comment from Benitez came despite the multi-million pound signings of Torres, Keane and Kuyt in recent season.

The trio have played 23 games between them this term and notched a total of just two goals.

But Kuyt insists everything will come right soon and explains that Torres is still suffering from the after-effects of Spain's Euro 2008 win.

"The goals will come for Fernando and Robbie," insists Kuyt. "Both are trying hard, but Fernando has had an injury and the Euro 2008 finals to recover from. He lasted in them a bit longer than me!

"I went out in the quarter-finals with Holland, so I have had more rest and a better pre-season. Torres has not had that, but the goals will come again.

"Fernando is fit now. You can see his quality, as you can with Robbie. We have no worries, they will score plenty of goals."

Kuyt also joined Benitez in criticising referee Andre Marriner's decision to disallow Steven Gerrard's free-kick goal for offside.

The goal would have been Gerrard's 100th for Liverpool and Benitez was the first to disapprove of Marriner's "massive mistake."

"It was a perfectly good goal, nobody touched the ball as it curled in and certainly not me," added Kuyt.

"I had no intention of doing anything because the ball was going in and it had not been flicked on or anything like that. I was not interfering with play.

Pulis hails stubborn Stoke

Sky Sports

Stoke boss Tony Pulis hailed his brave troops after they earned an unlikely goalless with Liverpool at Anfield.

The Premier League new boys defended stubbornly to frustrate Liverpool and pick up a precious point on their travels.

Stoke were fortunate not to concede in the opening two minutes when Steven Gerrard had a goal controversially disallowed.

Pulis admitted his side rode their luck with the disallowed goal, but he felt his players deserved their slice of fortune for their endevours.

"We are absolutely delighted with the result, the effort and the commitment the players put in," said Pulis. "It is a great point for us against one of the top sides in the country.

"We had a little bit of good fortune along the way, but the lads deserved that and earned that by the effort.

"I havent seen it [the disallowed goal] yet but I will certainly watch it later on, but for us to get a decision at Anfield that is a first so we are very, very pleased that we have got the decision."

Pulis believes the draw will give his side a big confidence boost for the rest of the season.

"The players will be delighted. It is a fantastic result for us and gives us a little bit more confidence as we march on," added Pulis.

"We have been in all the games this year. Apart from a mad 15 minutes at Bolton we have really, really worked hard and we have been a little bit disappointed with the return of points so that will give us that little bit of confidence that we need.

"It is fantastic for them [the fans]. It is 23 years since we were in the top flight and they are going to enjoy every game and they have been fantastic and we will need them all the way through the season."

Pulis was refusing to get carried away by the unlikely point with Chelsea next up for the Potters.

"It is a great point, absolutely fantastic, but we have Chelsea next Saturday so that brings you straight back down to earth," concluded Pulis.

Rafa: Massive mistake cost us

By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website

Rafa Benitez was left cursing a 'massive' refereeing error which denied Liverpool a crucial opener in Saturday's stalemate with newly-promoted Stoke.

Steven Gerrard appeared to have opened the scoring after just three minutes only for the linesman to flag for no valid reason.

"Nobody knows why it was disallowed," Benitez told reporters after the final whistle at Anfield.

"The referee told Carra that he – and not the linesman - disallowed the goal but I don't think he knows why. With the position the referee was in, how could he disallow it? It was unbelievable and we have to talk about it because it was a key decision.

"It is impossible to explain.

"The other thing we have to talk about when you forget about the massive mistake is the game. We had plenty of possession, tried from both sides and between the lines, had corners and free-kicks and long shots - but we couldn't score. This is football sometimes, but the players worked really hard.

"Sometimes you need a bit more luck or sometimes a bit more ability in the final third.

"I don't know how many attempts we had. It's difficult to find a solution when you have 25 to 30 chances – you just have to do the same again and maybe it will be different next time."

Reds held by defiant Potters


Defiant Stoke City stopped unbeaten Liverpool in their tracks at Anfield with a magnificent rearguard action to earn a 0-0 draw.

Liverpool dominated throughout, had close on 70% possession, but just could not find a way past goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen and his outstanding defenders.

Stoke play to their strengths - being direct and physical - but they deserved their day in the sun.

They halted a Liverpool side who had beaten Manchester United and Marseille in the previous week.

Manager Rafael Benitez rested Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano and Lucas to the bench with Robbie Keane, Albert Riera and Xabi Alonso returning.

Stoke had former Liverpool midfielder Salif Diao in their side, his first start of the season while Amdy Faye was suspended.

Leon Cort and Ricardo Fuller were also on the bench after playing against Everton last weekend, Mamady Sidibe and Abdoulaye Faye returned.

Gerrard thought he had scored his 100th club goal after just two minutes when referee Andre Marriner gave a free-kick for a push in the back on Fernando Torres.

The captain's curling free-kick from the left looked to have been missed by everyone-- including Sorensen - as the ball sailed on into the far corner, with Dirk Kuyt throwing himself at it on the far post, without making contact.

All Gerrard's colleagues rushed to congratulate their captain but a linesman's flag surprisingly cut short the celebrations.

Stoke responded with a 20-yard shot from Dave Kitson just over, while at the other end Sorensen needed to save smartly from a Robbie Keane first-time effort.

Gerrard kept trying and his next effort, a 20-yard free-kick, that Sorensen held comfortably.

Stoke were continually forced back with Liverpool keeping possession and passing well.

Such was Liverpool's territorial advantage that centre-back Martin Skrtel was spending considerable time linking in midfield.

Stoke lost Ibrahima Sonko with a leg injury after 21 minutes, to be replaced by Cort, while Sidibe needed to change his shirt after a gashed eye left him blood-stained.

But despite the constantly flowing attacks Stoke did not panic despite keeping two men up front whenever they could manage.

The tactic gave Liverpool plenty of space and possession, with Andrea Dossena joining Riera down the left almost at will.

Sorensen punched away another Alonso long-range strike and Torres had a drive charged down.

But there was great resilience and organisation about Stoke, with Diao screening the defence where Faye, Danny Higginbotham and Cort were standing firm against the barrage.

Kuyt fired wide and Gerrard saw another right-footer sail wide, while Alonso clattered another 20-yard shot over the top as the Potters reached the break unscathed.

Six minutes into the second period Keane almost ended his goal famine. Alvaro Arbeloa and Kuyt combined down the right and when the cross arrived on the six-yard line Kuyt's stabbed effort was well saved by Sorensen.

Liverpool continued to pour forward but frustration was creeping in with too many players trying increasingly erratic long-range efforts.

Stoke grew in confidence and they started to win set-pieces inside Liverpool's half, while the hosts were becoming wasteful.

Kuyt's lay-off saw Torres side-foot over from 10 yards before Babel replaced Riera after 65 minutes.

Sorensen had to save well from Kuyt, while another curler from the Dutchman just cleared the far post.

Yossi Benayoun then replaced Keane, with Jamie Carragher and Gerrard seeing efforts go close from outside the box.

Gerrard had another effort deflected wide by Cresswell with Stoke now camped in their own final third. Ricardo Fuller came on for Kitson after 77 minutes.

Liverpool's nerves were jangling every time Stoke won a throw or set-piece and for one Delap effort all 11 players were called back into defence.

A Gerrard run and Benayoun pass ended with Torres spinning to lash yet another effort into the Kop.

Skrtel was booked for a foul on Fuller, but Stoke hung on, throwing bodies in the way of numerous crosses and shots.

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