I woke up five minutes into the game so I didn't know and wasn't expecting the line-up at all. At first it looked like 5-3-2 then it quickly became 3-5-2 or 3-5-1-1 but all three are effectively the same formations of course. I think it was a tactical masterstroke by our own King Kenny. Moral of the story: Never question the King ever again. :p
Having an extra central defender helped us nullify the big and powerful Stoke striking forces. Stoke were comfortable for the first thirty minutes but nearing half time break, Liverpool were the better team. Kelly's cross from the red hand side was meted by Johnson's header in the six-yard box and I don't know how on Earth did Begovic save that one. That was the first of many chances.
Aurelio and Lucas combined well with a little one-two before Lucas passing the ball to Kuyt, who shot straight to Begovic. Agger made a superb run from defence from being tripped over by Salif Diao, former Anfield man who was yellow-carded for the offence. Free-kick was awarded to Liverpool which was taken by our captain. Slight deflection caused the ball to fall into the path of Kyrgiakos, who left it for Meireles' left foot to sort it out. And there's only one outcome to that. 1-0 Liverpool.
There were pure joy and celebration all around Anfield. The team celebrated, looking more united than ever. The whole evening saw a very good team effort. Just before half time, Anfield erupted with applause upon seeing our new boy Luis Suarez warming up on the byline.
Then came the time for substitution. The time everyone was waiting for. Suarez was coming on for Aurelio! Boy we love him even before he entered the pitch! This is the famous Anfield support I remember. Suarez's touches looked nervous at first but as the time went on he grew more comfortable. In fact all of his touches after that were quite good. He showed class, elegance and great skills. He has a delicate touch of an artist with a paintbrush. (Okay stop me, I'm just babbling now).
Kuyt sent Suarez through on his first touch. Suarez timed his run perfectly, rounding Begovic and shot with his left foot. Wilkinson tried to keep it out but his effort could only bounced off the post and crossed the line. Our new number 7 scored on his Anfield debut! I'm happy that the goal is credited to him, after all it was on target and it would do his confidence a world of good!
The pass-and-move, which has always been Liverpool's forte, worked well in the old times before I was born, worked well under Rafa Benitez and now it's working well under Kenny. Rafa Benitez bought the players that would suit his system and he nearly managed to achieve that. Lucas is the glue that brings the passes together. His passing rate from last night's game is 89.2% of completed passes, which is ridiculously good. Meireles seems to relish playing in a more attacking role since Kenny took over. He and Gerrard play well together, interchanging positions. Aurelio was played as a defensive midfielder and he did well there with Lucas. His poor touch almost contributed to a Stoke goal but Carew shot wide though.
Johnson is doing well at left back and Kelly has been amazing at right back. We retain the ball better with the likes of Agger and Lucas bringing the ball out of defence. We attack as a team and we defend as a team. In fact the early chances in the game came from Johnson and Kyrgiakos, our defenders. Suarez and Carroll with Gerrard and Meireles supplying the ball and Kelly and Johnson supporting from both flanks will be unstoppable.
The only way is up.