|photo by _redheat||via PhotoRee|
Correspondent Scott calls it like he sees it:
A team of large, striped battering rams marched into Anfield on Sunday determined to bludgeon the Reds until more than just their uniforms matched their nickname. Tony Pulis' Stoke City played hard, rough and dirty at times to bully Liverpool out of more points that the home side deserved. The 2/3 possession and 3 times as many shots seem a familiar storyline this season, as is the disappointing result. But what stood out about this clash was the brutal, by hook or crook style of play to which the visiting team resorted - even more than they usually do.
The six yellow cards shown to Stoke players could easily have been doubled. Yes, I know there aren't twelve players but more than one deserved a second, and let's not forget the subs. The award for highest degree of thuggery clearly goes to Robert Huth who was bent on taking Luis Suarez out of the game one way or another. His purposeful stamp on the Uruguayan, in only the third minute of the game, deserved a red card and set the tone for the afternoon. That nothing at all was called was shameful and fueled Stoke's confidence that they could carry on with impunity. When the referee finally began to dispense cards, it was really too late for anything other than a quasi rugby game. Between severe, ball-not-there body checks, studs up tackles, blatant tripping with hands and more late challenges than could be counted, Stoke City unquestionably earned their hard-nose reputation and really one-upped themselves to just plain dirty.
Of course, every story has two sides and, while not of the same variety, Liverpool or, more correctly, Suarez, was guilty again of simulation - this time shamelessly flopping between two defenders. Maybe a cleated foot to the chest will knock some sense into him and he'll realize that he is never going to get the close calls and will likely get fouled more without punishment until he begins to resist the urge to flop. It's one thing not to get a penalty, it's another to lift your shirt and see red welts. And for as much as I think Brendan Rodgers is doing right with this team, defending Suarez and claiming that he does not dive is a mistake. If Suarez won't change his own behavior, then Rodgers should do it for him.
But that is only one thing to fix. The other, more pressing matter is the fact that Liverpool have yet to win a game at home this season and currently sit 14th in the table. Since I still believe they are on the right track, I think the only thing to be done is to continue to improve the play in Rodgers' system (as the team continues to do each week) and consider beefing up the club's scoring options during the January transfer window. In the meantime, Liverpool supporters can just hope that the side has more Norwich than Stoke days in the City.
This is farlieonfootie for October 10.