Liverpool 4: Lallana 35’, Firmino 44’, Own Goal 59’ (Imbula), Sturridge 70’
Stoke City 1: Walters 12’
- Pre-match Thoughts: Interesting to see Roberto Firmino in the starting line-up on account of his holiday legal problems. Otherwise, no real surprises. Matip, Can, and Sturridge all continue their recoveries to full-fitness, with the former left out of the side altogether. On the Stoke side, three former Reds in the starting line-up, so plenty of motivation for the visitors, to be sure. It’s an interesting time and date for a game, but the points count the same. Let’s do this!
- Early chance for Liverpool as Divock Origi wins the ball back high up the pitch, gets his head up, and very nearly picks out a surging Georginio Wijnaldum at the far post. Good, composed stuff in the early stages from the home side. Moments later Sadio Mané and Firmino repeat the trick, each move missing by that much.
- All one-way traffic for Liverpool in the first ten minutes. The Reds already have a couple shots, with a weak Firmino header finding the target but not the back of the net. Of course, as I type these words...sigh.
- Goal. Stoke score completely against the early run of play. Jonathan Walters beats Dejan Lovren to an Erik Pieters cross, and his header beats Simon Mignolet to the near post.
- Speaking of Lovren, he appears to have broken his nose against Liverpool old boy Peter Crouch.
- Stoke City very nearly double their lead. Wee Joe Allen forces a snap save by Mignolet. If the Belgian was partially culpable for the first goal, he did well to bail out his flailing defense there. Liverpool now appear to be on the ropes.
- Liverpool nearly equalize, with Peter Crouch clearing Firmino’s chance off the line. Exciting first half, if nothing else.
- Some really poor passing, especially in Liverpool’s defensive third are making things far harder for the Reds than they need to be. So, pretty much business as usual around these parts.
- GOAL! I’m not completely sure how Adam Lallana finished from that sort of angle, but he did. Mané was set free down the right hand side by a first time long ball from Origi. Mané picked out Lallana arriving into the box, whose first touch was nearly cut out by the defender, but the ball found its way back to his right foot, and he slotted it with a nearly-impossible finish. 1-1 as we approach the half.
- GOAL! Firmino ends his scoreless drought on tonight of all nights, because of course he does. Milner picked out the Brazilian international in the box, and Firmino turned and fired a low left-footed shot off the far post, off the near post, and finally over the line to give the Reds the lead. 2-1 to the Scousers.
- Halftime Thoughts: Well, that was an exciting first half. Liverpool started and ended the half well, but Stoke City proved to be a handful on the counter, which should come as a shock to precisely no one. It would be nice to see Liverpool score a couple of goals and put this one out of reach, but it’s Liverpool so that probably won’t happen. On a completely unrelated note, my girlfriend informed me that Carrie Fisher died during the first half. Seriously, fuck you 2016.
- James Milner, still looking for that non-penalty goal, plays a lovely 1-2 at the edge of the area, but can’t quite get the curl on his attempt to put his shot on target.
- GOAL! Liverpool make it three! Henderson picks out Origi with a great through ball into the box, and Origi squares it for Mané. However, Stoke’s defender Imbula wasn’t going to let the Senagalese international have all the credit, deciding instead to steer the cross in for an own goal. 3-1.
- Sturridge and Can come on for Origi and Lallana, respectively, as the match approaches the 70th minute mark. Go on and open your league account, Danny!
- GOAL! And Sturridge does exactly that with his first involvement of the game. Ryan Shawcross absolutely gifts Sturridge a 1-v-1 with the keeper with a horrendous back pass. Sturridge easily plays it around Grant, and slots it with an easy finish on an empty net. 4-1, and suddenly this football thing is becoming fun.
- Holy shit, it’s an Alberto Moreno sighting! The out-of-favor left back comes on for Firmino. It’s a straight swap, as the Spaniard fills in on the left wing and Milner stays in the back four.
- Final Whistle Thought: After a shaky first half, Liverpool calmly dominated the second, and restore their second place status in the league. A good evening for a side that could have easily looked past Stoke to the upcoming Manchester City fixture.
We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.