LFC 1-0 Stoke: A tale of two halves as reds halt the slide

Liverpool grabbed a late winner thanks to the unlikely lad Glen Johnson to end a sequence of 5 games without a win.

It was Liverpool's first Premier League victory at Anfield for almost 2 months, and ended a miserable run of 4 defeats and 1 draw in all competitions.

On the 16th anniversary of Steven Gerrard's Liverpool debut, the club captain was removed from the starting line up - with Lucas retaining his place in the side.

Gerrard benched on the 16th anniversary of his debut

Kolo Toure too managed to fend off the £20M summer signing Dejan Lovren. Jose Enrique came in for Javi Manquillo - with Coutinho also returned to the side.

The changes didn't have an immediate effect. The first half was drab and unexciting. Both sides failed to get a single shot on target. Bearing in mind the reds performances of late though at least some positives may be taken from this if only from a defensive point of view.

Second half was entirely different. With Gerrard in the side, the natural desire of many is to look for him. With Lucas in his position, players take on more responsibility themselves.

Right from the second half whistle the reds were pressing; they were challenging and the game opened up. Stoke too had opportunities, the legs of Mignolet and the post denying them in two promising moves.

Liverpool's quick passing, so prevalent last season, was witnessed in brief flashes. Coutinho powering forward on solo runs and Sterling's confidence growing - resulting in a couple of yellow cards for the opposition who found him too hot to handle at times.

Henderson's volley went narrowly wide, Sterling flashed a shot across the face of goal, a quick move took Allen by surprise and his shot hit the crossbar.

Steven Gerrard was eventually brought on for a tiring Lucas Leiva, who appears to be transitioning from unwanted Anfield misfit to essential first team regular.

With 5 minutes remaining Henderson's cross was met by the head of Rickie Lambert. His looping header bounced back off the crossbar and it was Glen Johnson who continued his run forward. His diving header met the ball (and an incoming football boot) but the ball went into the net. Brave from the defender who has always looked better in the opposition half than our own.

Rodgers quickly made a defensive change - bringing on Lovren for Coutinho in a desire to defend the 1-0 lead. Liverpool, low on confidence, required some good saves by the under-fire keeper and a Raheem Sterling clearance off the line but held on to the result and all 3 points.

The League Table shows this game was only a battle for 11th place - Stoke and Liverpool switching places, but Liverpool fans will be hoping that it is a platform on which to build

Will it continue midweek away at Leicester City.

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