Rodgers in real need of some home help

Liverpool 0 Stoke 0

Rodgers in real need of some home help

With the international break looming, the Reds are one of only five teams in the top-flight without a win in front of their own supporters after another bitterly frustrating afternoon at Anfield.

Stoke secured a hard-earned point in a game where the foul count almost matched the number of days since Liverpool fans last saw their team win a league game at Anfield. Liverpool withstood Stoke’s heavy-handed tactics — the Potters face an FA fine after having six players booked — to carve out enough chances to have comfortably pocketed the points.

Rodgers will hope to find a solution to his team’s stuttering form in front of their own supporters by the time they return to action at home to Reading on October 20.

But after another day when Luis Suarez attracted headlines for the wrong reasons, Liverpool’s season has yet to take off.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis expressed his disappointment at Suarez after the Uruguay forward threw himself theatrically to the ground after an attempted second-half tackle from Marc Wilson when there was no contact at all.

“There was a challenge in the first half when Johnson and Walters both went up for a header,” said Pulis.

“It was a real full-blooded challenge and I thought Glen did absolutely fantastic to bounce back up and get on with it.

“I went over to him and said well done. I think the crowd thought I was having a go at him but his behaviour was first class. Suarez falling over in the box was really, really disappointing and that should be highlighted.”

Historically there was little to encourage Stoke, who had never won a top-flight match at Anfield in 49 attempts.

Yet the visitors were presented with a golden chance to take a fifth-minute lead when Nuri Sahin passed straight to Charlie Adam in front of the Kop. Fortunately for the hosts, Adam was unable to mark his Anfield return within a goal after shooting straight at Pepe Reina’s legs.

This was not a game for the purists. Another glaring error, this time from Stoke’s French midfielder Steven Nzonzi, allowed Suarez to embark on a powerful run which almost brought a goal.

The mistakes kept on coming.

Home fans vented their frustrations at keeper Reina when the Spanish stopper passed straight to Nzonzi in the 22nd minute before redeeming himself with a finger-tip save to deny Michael Kightly.

He was one of two Stoke players to go into referee Lee Mason’s notebook before half time after a lunge on Joe Allen. But Mason was the most overworked man on the pitch as the game became an ugly battle.

Robert Huth was guilty of a stream of bruising challenges on Suarez, but Mason’s patience with the German defender ended in a yellow card being dished out to the Stoke player for one foul too many on Liverpool’s forward.

There were few highlights before half time.

However, visiting keeper Asmir Begovic was forced to produce a fine diving save to keep out Steven Gerrard’s 25-yard attempt in the 27th minute before Daniel Agger brushed the outside of the post from Suso’s cross.

The second half was just as frustrating for the hosts.

Suarez surged towards the Stoke goal and sidestepped past the visitors’ defence before sending a shot the wrong side of the post.

Then it was Raheem Sterling’s turn to hit the woodwork, from Agger’s cross.

The former Ajax man was denied by the woodwork again in the closing stages after earning himself a yard in the box and sending in an effort from a tight angle. Liverpool’s afternoon of frustration was summed up when defender Martin Skrtel poked the ball across the empty goal and off the far post.

“This is a club that has only won two Premier League games at Anfield this calendar year and it’s been nearly a year since the club has won consecutive Premier League games,” said Rodgers.

“So to still get the support and backing of the supporters with that type of record, there are not many clubs who’d get that.”

LIVERPOOL: Reina 6; Wisdom 7, Skrtel 6, Agger 8, Johnson 6; Allen 7, Gerrard 6; Sahin 5 (Assaidi 79), Suso 6 (Cole 67, 5), Sterling 7; Suarez 6.

STOKE: Begovic 7; Cameron 7, Shawcross 9, Huth 7, Wilson 7; Whelan 6 (Whitehead 20, 7), Nzonzi 6; Walters 7, Adam 6 (Edu 80), Kightly 6 (Etherington 63, 6); Crouch 6.

Referee: Lee Mason: 5.

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