The Reds cruised relatively comfortably to a two nil win over Stoke and played some nice football throughout. The game also saw a substitute debut for Luis Suarez and he capped a good start with the second Reds goal.
Leading up to the game all the talk was about the transfer window and ultimately the advert on the back of the Kop for the current home kit had had a makeover to remove any trace of the previous Reds striker who decided to leave the Reds. You know who this is but I'm refusing to type his name in this because the club has moved on now and the next chapter in our great history started in this game.
New signing Andy Carroll was paraded in front of the crowd before kick off whilst his strike partner Luis Suarez was given a place on the bench. The Reds lined up with three centre backs for the game which allowed Kelly and Johnson to push higher up the pitch whilst the midfield saw Lucas, Aurelio, Gerrard and Meireles all go and support Kuyt up top.
The three centre backs made sense against a side like Stoke who play to their height strengths and it's done them no harm over time even though I'm no huge fan of it. That said when they took the ball down the did play a little bit.
After an even enough start the first real chance for the Reds fell to the one person you didn't want it too. Martin Skrtel went in hard to win a ball high up in the midfield and won it fairly but as he charged on he elected to ignore Kuyt in the box and hit a shot that flew well wide of the target. He isn't the greatest striker of the ball in the side it has to be said.
It did lift the crowd momentarily but the game was being contested well by both sides. The atmosphere inside Anfield seemed a bit low at times with the Reds just not quite playing clean passing football enough. I think at times they were trying to hard to play that perfect ball through the tightest of angles that it just wasn't working.
The game pepped right up just after the half hour when Luis Suarez was sent down the line to warm up a bit. His bright boots certainly dazzled and it got a good reaction from the crowd. That reaction to Suarez seemed to get the players on the pitch sorted out a bit as well because within two minutes Glen Johnson had a header from six yards superbly saved by Begovic. Any other place with the header would surely have gone in but Begovic somehow clawed it away.
A minute later and a Gerrard cross from the right was glanced wide of the far post by Kuyt who had far more time than he realised. A couple of minutes later and Gerrard chested the ball to Meireles and in turn it went to Kuyt but he just couldn't get over the ball and shot wide of the target.
Five minutes before half time the visitors should have been reduced to ten men when Robert Huth launched himself two footed in to a tackle on Martin Kelly. Thankfully for the Reds player he didn't make full connection or it could have been a bone breaker. The ref clearly saw it and decided to book Huth for the tackle after he'd managed to keep the two sets of players from one another. For me if the ref has sen that tackle which he clearly did it was a red card to the letter of the law. You simply cannot jump in two footed with your studs showing.
The Reds had one more great chance before half time when Lucas found Kuyt on the edge of the box and he turned and shot on target but it was easy enough for Begovic to get down too and save.
The half had certainly ended well and it all coincided with the warm up from Suarez. He did manage to get on in the second half but half time didn't see any changes by either side.
The second half started and not long in to it Salif Diao found himself in the book for a poor tackle in midfield. It resulted in the Reds goal as well. The ball was flicked in tot he box and as Kyrgiakos won the ball he was heading across the area with it when Meireles took control and lashed a superb left footed shot past Begovic for the lead.
Loads of people near me missed the goal as they hadn't got back up in time for the second half but that really got the game going for the Reds.
After the goal the Reds started to play some really good football - the passing was crisper but also the movement off the ball was so much better and it started to stretch the Stoke team across the pitch far more.
On fifty four minutes Glen Johnson was booked when he made a poor attempt at winning a header. He really looked like he was watching the player more than the ball and hence went in late.
Stoke made the first change of the night when the sent on Delap for Diao. In fact they ended up making their three subs inside five minutes.
The big change though came in between that on sixty two minutes when Fabio Aurelio was subbed and replaced by Luis Suarez which saw the crowd all rise to salute what is hopefully going to be a new hero for the Kop.
Suarez got involved from the off as well and tried to link up play with Gerrard and Kuyt. Although his first couple of touches weren't superb his third was and linked play up well.
On seventy four minutes Shelvey was thrown on in place of Meireles which saw the play mixed up a bit more again.
The second goal came with eleven minutes left on the clock as Lucas won a ball in midfield and headed to Kuyt. He then turned the ball on to space for Suarez to race in to and as begovic came out of his area Suarez rounded him and then side footed the ball towards the Kop goal from just inside the area. The ball was attempted to be cleared from about three yards but it was only deflected on to the post and in as Suarez reeled away in celebration.
A couple of minutes later Stoke did have a great chance to get back in to the game when Walters struck from inside the box but Reina pulled off a superb save to keep the visitors at bay. Thankfully the second goal had come when it did and really calmed any possible nerves down. After the game last week with Fulham which saw an edgy finish this one was to prove far easier.
If anything the Reds could easily have scored more towards the end of the game with one of the best chances falling to Shelvey but he just couldn't hit the target. Steven Gerrard also fizzed a superb effort just over the bar as the Reds finished strongly.
Overall this was far more positive from the Reds and their play was really good at times. They've clearly been working hard in training and look like they've got more appetite for playing football again and that can only be down to the back room staff and manager.
MotM : Daniel Agger - played really well at the back but also strode out of defence on a number of occasions and linked up well going forward. In truth the team as a whole played well and it's difficult for a change to single one player out in a good side.