Dalglish rues Liverpool's lack of cutting edge
Published 15/01/2012 | 05:00
It would be all too easy to put this latest Anfield draw down to the absence of Luis Suarez. But that would be to ignore the fact that the Uruguayan had played in each of the other six draws in 11 home matches that have undermined Liverpool's season.
After Sunderland, Manchester United, Norwich, Swansea, Manchester City and Blackburn, Stoke join the growing list of teams to leave Merseyside with a point, making the Reds' unbeaten home record little to shout about.
The concern for Liverpool supporters, whose team is five points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, is that no other result really looked likely.
Kenny Dalglish selected three centre-halves -- two of whom stood and watched as the other challenged Peter Crouch in the air; Stoke's manager Tony Pulis having adapted his formation when he saw Liverpool's team-sheet.
Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique threatened fitfully from the flanks but Sebastian Coates, making his first Premier League start, brought the ball out from the back once in the opening period and Martin Skrtel did the same on only one occasion after the interval.
At the other end, the game's other lone forward Dirk Kuyt wasted his, and the game's, only decent chance. Frequently met with questions such as "How do you watch that every week?", for once Stoke supporters could respond in kind.
It was not easy to work out what the formation was set to achieve but it was fair to assume that containing Stoke was not the limit of Dalglish's ambitions.
Afterwards, Dalglish claimed that he had little choice about his shape due to the personnel available, but surely a different arrangement would have brought more penetration and vibrancy?
"They came for a point and got a point and the responsibility is on us to be more imaginative to try to break them down," Dalglish said afterwards.
"We didn't manage to do it and the couple of opportunities that we did have, we didn't take and in a game like that you've got to take your opportunities."
Frequently, Matthew Etherington looked the most dangerous player on the field and his drive just before half-time, following a quick break, was the best chance of the opening period.
Liverpool went closest when a Steven Gerrard corner hit the oblivious Charlie Adam three yards from goal only for the ball to rebound backwards.
Stewart Downing, Gerrard and Jordan Henderson all tried their luck from distance but the moment when Gerrard received the ball five yards inside his own half and looked up to see no one ahead of him summed up the opening period for the hosts.
Andy Carroll's first contribution, after being brought on just before the hour, was to block an effort from Henderson but, other than changing his boots and staggering over under pressure in the area on three occasions, he produced little else. All three appeals were ignored by referee Howard Webb.
When Kuyt finally got an opportunity, thanks to an Enrique cross glancing off Jonathan Woodgate, he missed with a free header from eight yards. Kuyt missed again from close range with another header in the closing stages, before Skrtel thumped a header into the ground and over the bar from Craig Bellamy's corner.
Pulis was dismissive of the penalty appeals. "They have a fantastic crowd and they could see we were digging in and the players needed some help and by cheering the way they did every time the ball goes in there, that helps.
Some referees might have buckled but thankfully Howard is experienced enough and strong enough not to have."
Sunday Indo Sport