Klopp blames forwards, Henderson ref, but Liverpool’s draw about depth

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Liverpool’s hopes of second and maybe third in the Premier League took a big hit on Saturday as the Reds drew their second-straight match, this one nil-nil versus Stoke City at Anfield.

A frustrated Jurgen Klopp “saw everything I wanted to see apart form fluency and fun and joy.”

[ RECAP: Liverpool 0-0 Stoke City ]

While the Reds could’ve easily won either match, its depth is proving a real challenge to competing in the top competitions available to clubs: the Premier League and UEFA Champions League.

Perhaps both draws versus West Brom and Stoke would best be put down to bounces, near misses, injuries, and — yes, largely — Champions League schedule congestion. Like Manchester United last season, Klopp’s men have drawn too often to compete for a higher table spot.

In fact, it’s interesting to speculate whether the Reds wouldn’t be contending for the Premier League crown with a deeper squad.

On matches touching a UCL matchweek, Liverpool has 11 wins, eight draws and three losses.

The Reds are 9W-4D-1L in all other match weeks.

While it’d be fair to submit that Liverpool’s straight-forward group and a first draw versus Porto allowed a certain amount of leeway, the Reds haven’t had the luxury of plugging in impact depth players and expecting a win.

Part of the problem was surely the Philippe Coutinho drama, the obvious need for a January arrival like Virgil Van Dijk, and new players meshing with the team — Mohamed Salah scored just five of his 31 goals through the first nine matches (As much as I advocated taking Barcelona’s millions and selling was the right call inside their financial culture, keeping him — in an atmosphere where it’s possible to keep him reasonably happy — probably converts some of those draws to wins).

Cite injuries? Sure, but mostly meh. Few of those came to stars, and plenty of megawatt men on PL powers missed time this season including one-name guys like Pogba, Sane, Kane (I keep wanting the last two to rhyme…).

And again, luck. There was the interfering equalizer from Watford on opening day, Sadio Mane‘s red card meaning he missed a visit from Burnley, and even this week Salah missing a breakaway in stunning fashion early in the game.

“It was always clear there would be a day when he missed chances,” Klopp said. “I told the boys at halftime they did not make much pressure on our passing players but we had no offers in between.”

And Jordan Henderson pointed out the handball block by Erik Pieters, where it was very questionable whether the ball played the hand or vice versa.

“It looked a clear penalty, on the TV it is blatant,” Henderson said. “If his hand isn’t there Alberto is there for a tap in, so it is a poor decision from the referee and the linesman and it has cost us three points.”

All that’s fair, but Liverpool doing better than 3-3 at Watford on Opening Day, drawing at Newcastle, and at Burnley, plus these two results (It’s tempting to throw in Oct. 14’s 0-0 home draw with Manchester United, but the Reds were on the road at Benfica a one day after Liverpool cruised at Maribor).

Perhaps when all’s said and done, the difference between Man City and the chasing pack is those extra million invested in depth (Though Chelsea has cared deeply about depth and disappointed). Maybe City was just the first team to account for this, and Liverpool and others will react to their standard. We shall see, because all the big boys are making a lot of money these days.

Liverpool 0-0 Stoke: Home dominance without finish

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  • Dominant Reds can’t score
  • Pieters penalty uncalled
  • Salah misses breakaway

Liverpool couldn’t find a way past Stoke City, drawing the relegation-threatened Potters 0-0 at Anfield on Saturday.

The Reds wasted a chance to stay in the race for second place but staying mostly healthy for Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg at Roma.

The Potters now have 30 points, three back of 17th place Swans and one ahead of Saints, but have played two matches more than both.

Stoke was out shot 20-5 and held less than one-third of the ball on the day.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Stoke’s Moritz Bauer nearly put Liverpool on the penalty spot in the fifth minute when he reached out for Trent Alexander-Arnold inside the six, but was mercifully let off the hook.

Moments later, the Reds gave the Potters a break in the most surprising fashion, with Mohamed Salah‘s 50-yard breakaway chipped over Jack Butland but wide of the near post. Stunning, really: It would’ve been a remarkable way to set a Premier League record.

A rare Stoke counterattack saw Mame Biram Diouf head a cross off the outside of the goal from an acute angle in the 20th minute.

Peter Crouch just missed getting on the end of a cross through the six moments later, as the Potters started to fancy their chances of a necessary away result.

Salah missed the near post and rippled the outside of the netting with a free kick in the 34th.

Danny Ings score a fine goal from a tight, tight angle, but was just offside when the ball was played.

Already thin in the midfield, Jordan Henderson took a follow-through of Xherdan Shaqiri‘s pass in the shin and collapsed to the turf.

Liverpool bumbled through the second half, but was unlucky to not receive a penalty when Giorginio Wijnaldum’s cross was blocked by Erik Pieters‘ dangling arm. Most times, that’s given.

The Potters nearly took advantage when Diouf crossed for Shawcross and the veteran couldn’t cut it inside the goal with a slide in tight.

As for the below stat, make it 55…

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Lanzini charged by FA for fooling ref with dive

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
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Manuel Lanzini dove to earn a penalty in West Ham’s 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday at the bet365 Stadium, and he may pay for it.

Lanzini, who also posted an assist in an influential performance, drew the penalty converted by Mark Noble when he hit the deck under minimal contact from Erik Pieters.

[ MORE: Making sense of the PL table ]

He could miss two matches for “successful deception of a match official,” the same penalty given to Everton’s Oumar Niasse for a similar offense.

West Ham pulled out of the drop zone with the win, but has three bottom-half battles coming up over the festive fixtures: Saturday versus Newcastle, Dec. 26 at Bournemouth, and Jan. 2 versus West Brom.

Stoke City 0-3 West Ham United: Arnautovic embraces villain role

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  • Controversial PK helps WHU in front
  • Arnautovic booed all day, makes it 2-0
  • Irons out of the drop zone

Marko Arnautovic got the last laugh on a subplot heavy day at the bet365 Stadium, scoring a goal and constantly threatening his old club as West Ham United beat Stoke City 3-0 on Saturday.

The match was delayed an hour thanks to a power outage, but Arnautovic had the electricity ramped up early and he certainly celebrated his second half goal against his former club with vigor.

Mark Noble converted a controversial Manuel Lanzini-won penalty to make it 1-0, and Diafra Sakho completed the scoring off a Lanzini feed in the win.

David Moyes and West Ham move out of the drop zone with the win, moving 15th with 17 points. Stoke is now just a point ahead of 18th place Newcastle United.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The home crowd was all over Marko Arnautovic, who left Stoke for West Ham this summer, and the early tackles for both teams showed an ornery nature.

Yet it was Stoke who saw an effort bound off the post in the 17th minute, though the optimism was short-lived as a counter attack saw Manuel Lanzini dive into Erik Pieters to earn a penalty.

Noble converted the penalty, and West Ham was up 1-0 in the 19th.

Butland got the crowd in full throat when he saved villain Arnautovic’s breakaway shot. Then Lanzini knuckled a shot at Butland which the English goalkeeper turned away.

Arnautovic had another chance to burn his old team, but Kevin Wimmer got a slight deflection on his countryman’s 59th minute attempt.

He’d continue to do everything but score, cranking a left-footed shot off the crossbar in the 68th.

Charlie Adams crossed for Ryan Shawcross in the 72nd minute, but the big man couldn’t head the ball down on goal.

Arnautovic finally got his goal on a cute 1-2 with Lanzini, and he certainly celebrated against his old side.

It should’ve been 3-0 thanks to deft work from Chicharito, but Diafra Sakho needed too many touches before back heeling a shot wide of the far post.

Sakho would get his goal off a neat feed from

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

League Cup: Foxes oust LFC; Stoke, Burnley upset (video)

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Leicester City turned to its favorite tactics to send Liverpool out of the League Cup, while Bristol City stunned struggling Stoke City as 11 matches dotted the English tournament landscape on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Pulisic up for major award ]


Leicester City 2-0 Liverpool

Both sides were decidedly second-string, and the Reds had plenty of control over the proceedings despite a lack of goals.

But substitute Shinji Okazaki scored in traffic after Vicente Iborra headed a corner kick his way, and the Foxes took a late lead.

And Okazaki cued up Islam Slimani for a wonderful 78th minute marker (see above) to ensure the result.

Bristol City 2-0 Stoke City

The Robins were flying at Ashton Gate, getting an opener in the 50th minute through Famara Diedhiou and a 60th minute insurance tally from Matt Taylor.

Stoke left some starters on the bench in Erik Pieters, Joe Allen, Jack Butland, and Jese, but had plenty of their best in the XI (Kurt Zouma, Eric Choupo-Moting, Darren Fletcher).

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Barnsley

Spurs had a hefty edge in shots and possession, but the visitors held firm against a decent side including Dele Alli, Son Heung-min, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele.

Fernando Llorente made his first Spurs start, but it was Dele who broke the Londoners through on the side’s 17th shot of the night.

Burnley 2-2 (3-5 PKs) Leeds United

Sean Dyche‘s Premier Leaguers were dismissed from the tournament by Thomas Christiansen’s high-flying Championship side.

It took penalty kicks, where Leeds GK Andy Lonergan stopped James Tarkowski to send the Clarets out of the Cup.

Hadi Sacko had an eye for the winner, assisted by Pablo Hernandez, but Chris Wood converted an 89th minute penalty to, seemingly, send the match to extra time.

Hernandez then scored a penalty of his own in stoppage time, only for Robbie Brady‘s free kick to equalize and again put the match on pace for extra time.

Elsewhere
Crystal Palace 1-0 Huddersfield Town
Aston Villa 0-2 Middlesbrough
Brentford 1-3 Norwich City
Bournemouth 1-0 (ET) Brighton
West Ham 3-0 Bolton
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 (ET) Bristol Rovers
Reading 0-2 Swansea City
Arsenal vs. Doncaster Rovers — Wednesday
Chelsea vs. Nottingham Forest — Wednesday
Everton vs. Sunderland — Wednesday
Manchester United vs. Burton Albion — Wednesday
West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City — Wednesday