Before I start talking about Stoke I want to mention the Ludogorets game or in particular some of the comments made after the game. I watched the match on television and after the game commentators, experts, the manager and supporters all seemed to think that Liverpool had shown an improvement all telling us about the fight and character the team had shown. I disagree, I thought that this was a terrible performance and to come away with only a draw was a very poor result. I also felt that we didn't really show any fight and certainly not any character, yes we came back from a goal down, but not because of any great character but because Ludogorets were even worse than us at defending and a laughable string of mistakes presented Lambert with the equaliser, we did score a good second goal before showing exactly the opposite of character and totally bottled it with a spineless performance thats sore us attempting to waste time, taking the ball to the corner with still ten minutes on the clock, against a poor standard team, better than we previously thought but still poor. We then showed our fear by defending deeper and deeper and eventually conceding in the face of the pressure we invited on to ourselves, not brave, not showing character and certainly not good but spineless, lacking confidence and very very poor. I bring this up now because against Stoke both on and off the field I saw character and fight and the bravery we were looking for and maybe now the shoots of the recovery that we have been looking for.
Before the game Rodgers made the tough decision to drop Gerrard and Lovren from the starting eleven, many of us have been shouting that these two needed replacing in the team but its not easy for the manager to drop out icon and legend along with the defender he only recently spent twenty million pounds on a tough decision full of character.
The first half was poor, with almost nothing happening, from our point of view we hardly created anything but we didn't look like conceding. Coutinho was looking ok and at least was running at the defence but hadn't managed to create anything. In the second half we seemed to take more of a risk, brave. We pushed more people forward, played with more pace and tried to get players beyond Lambert and we looked better, much better with Sterling and Coutinho in particular putting in good performances and the chances started to come, the risk was Stoke started to get one or two chances as well but I thought we were getting the better of it and to be honest were stil doing ok at the back with Mignolet doing well when called upon.
When the goal came it was Johnson who showed great bravery and character firstly to be playing at all in the face of the huge criticism he has received over a period of months and secondly more obviously to stick his head in to score the winner when he new it was going to hurt, but he did it and we got the goal.
Then once we had the goal we defended better, braver, with a higher line at least trying to push out, at least trying to play. Finally a performance with character and bravery and finally a result, finally just possibly we may be starting to turn a corner so well done Rodgers and Liverpool for finally showing some character, the character we are going to need for the rest of the season and beyond.