Dalglish laments toothless Liverpool
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes that a lack of imagination is the reason for his team's miserable home run. The Reds are unbeaten in the Premier League at Anfield but have drawn seven of their home games, managing just four victories. It is a spell of form that has undermined their push for a UEFA Champions League place and they are five points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea following a goalless home draw with Stoke City.
What is even more frustrating for Liverpool supporters is the fact that, other than Manchester United and Manchester City, points have been dropped against Sunderland, Norwich, Swansea and Blackburn, who would all be expected to be beaten with ease at Anfield. It was the first time they have been held at home since Luis Suarez was given an eight-match suspension for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra. But with just 14 goals from 11 home Premier League matches, it is clear where Dalglish's problems lie.
The Liverpool manager, who faces a trip to struggling Bolton next weekend, did not make excuses for his team and he said: "They came for a point and got a point and the responsibility is on us to be more imaginative to try to break them down. We didn't manage to do it and the couple of opportunities that we did have, we didn't take and in a game like that you've got to take your opportunities.
"They looked pretty solid at the back and they had one shot in the first half and not much more of it but it's our responsibility and on the day we weren't good enough. There was nothing wrong with their effort or determination but on the day we just didn't have enough to break them down."
Dalglish revealed that Jose Enrique played against Stoke despite struggling with a stomach virus, while Daniel Agger was left out of the match at Anfield as a precaution over an injury. The Liverpool manager attracted criticism for selecting Dirk Kuyt, who has not scored a Premier League goal all season, as a lone striker, with Andy Carroll left on the bench.
Kuyt missed the best chance of the match, heading wide from a cross from Enrique in the closing stages. But Dalglish defended his selections and added: "We always play as a squad, not 11 players. We're not in that fortuitous position to do what Bill Shankly always said and have the same team in April as we had in August."
Stoke manager Tony Pulis believes his team's performances against Liverpool this season demonstrate the progress that has been made in their fourth season in the top flight. They beat the Reds 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium in September and produced a defiant performance at Anfield, where a point keeps them comfortably in the top half of the Premier League table.
Pulis said: "We're delighted. The effort and commitment of the players was terrific. That's four points off our two games with Liverpool, two clean sheets in the Premier League and that's a great achievement for us."
The Stoke manager was relieved that referee Howard Webb was not swayed by some of Liverpool's late penalty appeals at the Kop end on Saturday. He added: "They have a fantastic crowd and they could see we were digging in and the players needed some help. By cheering the way they did every time the ball goes in there, that helps and some referees might have buckled but thankfully Howard is experienced enough and strong enough not to have."