Liverpool held to 0-0 draw by Stoke

Liverpool again struggled to score at home on Saturday, being

held 0-0 by Stoke for its seventh draw at Anfield in the Premier

League this season.

Dirk Kuyt missed two headed chances in the final 15 minutes as

Liverpool pressed hard for a winner, but the stubborn Stoke defense

was able to hold on for a point.

Andy Carroll and Craig Bellamy came on in the second half as

manager Kenny Dalglish tried to boost the hosts’ attack, but and

Carroll had two penalty appeals turned down in the area.

Liverpool remains undefeated at home this season, but has scored

just 14 goals in 11 games at Anfield.

The hosts lined up in the same 3-4-2-1 formation with which they

beat Stoke at home last season, but with the personnel different –

including summer signing Sebastian Coates being given his first

Premier League start – they struggled to adjust.

Kuyt, without a league goal since the final day of last season,

lacked support up front and while Glen Johnson, on the right of

midfield, roamed everywhere on the opposite flank Jose Enrique got

forward less than he did playing at left back.

The hosts created little in a dull first half, when the visitors

actually had the best chance from a quick counterattack but Matt

Etherington’s shot from outside the penalty area was easily saved

by Jose Reina.

Stewart Downing, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson all had

shots from distance but only the latter’s troubled goalkeeper

Thomas Sorensen.

For all their struggles at home this season, it was easily the

worst 45 minutes seen at Anfield since Dalglish returned as manager

a year ago.

There was a slight improvement after the break but not to the

standard expected of a side with top-four ambitions.

Johnson twice cut in from the right to shoot with his left foot,

having his first blocked and dragging the second wide, and when

Enrique finally got forward his cross from the left byline was too

close to Sorensen.

Carroll made his entrance in the 59th minute to replace Downing

and immediately caused a problem with Robert Huth putting him in a

headlock from Gerrard’s corner, but it went unpunished by referee

Howard Webb.

The England international’s next intervention was less helpful,

however, blocking Henderson’s goalbound volley from Enrique’s

cross.

Kuyt then squandered Liverpool’s best chances when he headed

wide Enrique’s deflected cross before nodding into the side-netting

at the far post.