Liverpool produced a largely dominant performance against Stoke City on Tuesday night, coming from behind to win the Premier League encounter 4-1.
The Reds were stunned early on as Jon Walters put Stoke in the lead with a header at Simon Mignolet’s near post.
Adam Lallana, however, pulled one back for Jürgen Klopp’s men before Roberto Firmino’s drive off the post ensured that Liverpool held a halftime lead of 2-1.
The Potters then began to capitulate as a Giannelli Imbula own goal made it 3-1 to the home side within 15 minutes of the second half, before Daniel Sturridge came off the bench to seal it by feeding on a lame back-pass by Ryan Shawcross, before finishing into an empty net after rounding the goalkeeper.
A cheerful outing then for Liverpool, here are five things we learned from a third successive victory.
Strength of character key to win
“Start as you mean to go on.”
In recent times, no other team in the Premier League has epitomised that proverb more than Liverpool, as lightning quick starts have become a common Red theme, especially at Anfield.
This time, however, it was Stoke who seized the initiative, containing their opponents well in the early stages of the game and marking down their intentions of playing aerial balls from wide.
This, as well as a clear lack of defensive aerial prowess by Liverpool, gave Stoke the start they would’ve hoped for and one they made count, as Sadio Mané’s failed clearance attempt gave Erik Pieters a crossing opportunity which resulted in Walters’ opening goal.
Rather than be shaken, though, Klopp’s men showed strong belief in their ability to bounce back from initial disappointment.
The quality in their play was, at times, missing in that first half – while Stoke were also growing in confidence – but the Reds once again showed that this season they boast a strength of character enough to pull them out of difficult situations and were well rewarded from the moment Lallana finished from a tight angle to make it 1-1.
Lallana continues great form
The Anfield faithful are loving him at the moment and rightly so!
Adam Lallana came into this match on a hot run of form and the Englishman only added fuel to fire with another impressive performance, capped off by his seventh goal of the campaign.
Starting in an unchanged midfield three alongside Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum, it was a typical display of tireless energy, excellent skill and free-flowing movement by Lallana.
The former Southampton man combined all three qualities to good effect, helping his side create chances going forward, as well as dropping deep into midfield to retain the Reds some control.
A special mention also has to be given to Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian won the Premier League’s Man of the Match award for an exceptional performance, which saw him interchange well with his fellow attackers and contribute to the efforts of his defenders to great effect.
Therefore, whilst one man continued a great run of form, another ended a rather poor spell with an effective performance.
Captain Henderson produces superb display
He would’ve already been forgiven for going unnoticed, given Liverpool’s many headline-making attackers but Jordan Henderson’s performance on Tuesday night was particularly outstanding.
The Reds skipper was in defiant mood from the off, acting as a source of damage for Stoke’s forward surges, as his side imposed their now common pressing system against their opponents.
For a majority of the game, Henderson would find himself at the right place at the right time for Liverpool, making a number of key ball retentions before feeding the ball to his fellow attackers with some well-executed passes, one of which lead to the third goal.
Perhaps in order for him to be noticed, Henderson will need to crown these kinds of performances with a goal. Given that the deep-lying midfielder has come close on a few occasions, including this match, it may only be a matter of improving on his finishing but that shouldn’t take away anything from a simply superb display on Tuesday night.
Super-sub Sturridge impacts again
Ever since a fruitful cameo return from injury last week against Everton, there has been plenty of talk surrounding Daniel Sturridge, with fans and experts expressing the opinion that the striker still has a big role to play for Klopp’s Liverpool, even from the bench.
Sturridge came on to replace fellow forward Divock Origi with atleast 20 minutes left to play at Anfield last night and the Englishman justified that view by immediately intercepting a Shawcross back-pass and rounding ‘keeper Lee Grant to score his first Premier League goal of the season.
A first watch of the Sturridge dance in the league was enjoyable for Reds’ fans but that the number 15 added to that with a decent performance – despite the lack of time – is, to his credit, another positive step towards finally returning to his managers’ starting line-up.
Anfield ready for monumental clash
Liverpool manager Klopp labelled Tuesday’s match his side’s most important of the season.
There are obviously a few reasons to support such a claim in that the Reds had to stay in touch with their top rivals, who managed to win on Boxing Day, as well as maintaining their challenge for the league title.
However, in the short-term, there may not be a bigger reason than the visit of Manchester City this Saturday. The Citizens renew their rivalry with Liverpool in a match that could determine which side is better equipped to go head to head with league leaders Chelsea, for English football’s top honour.
It’s surely set to be a thriller but key to this being the case for Liverpool was always going to be achieving victory against Stoke.
That box is surely ticked and with Reds fans in good voice last night, it’s fair to say that Anfield is ready for what will be a monumental clash.