STOKE CITY’S impressive recent run of form came to an emphatic halt against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.
The Potters had claimed 14 points from their previous seven top-flight fixtures leading into the encounter but failed to build-upon that on Merseyside as the Reds chalked up a third win over Mark Hughes’ men this term.
Alberto Moreno’s thumping effort in the eighth minute got the ball rolling for what was a hugely productive afternoon for the home side, who elevated themselves above City as a consequence of their win.
Stoke, missing the injured Jack Butland, Marko Arnautovic, Glenn Whelan, Glen Johnson and Jonathan Walters, did provide a response in the 22nd minute when Bojan glanced home a delightful Xherdan Shaqiri set-piece, and for a 10 minute spell afterwards looked the more likely of the two teams to score a second goal.
In fact Peter Crouch, who was one of three new inclusions in the starting eleven along with Shaqiri and the fit again skipper Ryan Shawcross, nodded home what he thought was a perfectly good goal only for the linesman to harshly raise his flag for offside.
The momentum the visitors had been building as the opening period wore on all came to nothing as, somewhat against the run of play, Daniel Sturridge restored Liverpool’s advantage with a close range header following good work from Sheyi Ojo on the left flank.
At the other end Crouch saw an acrobatic effort fly wide of target whilst Club record signing Giannelli Imbula saw a rasping long-distance strike palmed away by Belgian international ‘keeper Simon Mignolet.
Stoke went into the break behind a goal behind but certainly encouraged by their showing, although they were left with a real mountain to climb when substitute Divock Origi opened his afternoon’s account with a well-taken headed goal from six-yards.
Hughes’ troops were deflated and from there on in were never able to get a foothold on proceedings as Klopp’s troops dictated the tempo of the game with the likes of Joe Allen and Origi both impressing.
Three soon became four as the aforementioned Belgian, Origi, once more displayed his prowess – twisting and turning out on the left flank, before cutting in and curling the ball into a packed out penalty area before watching it evade Jakob Haugaard and nestle in the far corner.
The game was effectively over, although the visitors did twice go close to adding some respectability to the scoreline with Crouch flashing an effort just wide of the target, similarly to Shaqiri, whose audacious effort narrowly missed the far post.
To add insult to injury, Erik Pieters received his tenth caution of the campaign late on, thus ruling him out of action for the upcoming two league fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.