Coming in between the two legs of their Champions League semi-final, Liverpool’s Premier League match against Stoke always had the look of a sticky afternoon’s work where Jurgen Klopp’s priority would be resting players.
That’s exactly as it panned out; with the Potters content to absorb pressure despite draws not really being satisfactory for them at present, the emphasis was on a rotated Liverpool to take the initiative.
Unlike against Roma just five days previously, the Reds were unable to do so and it was hotshot Mo Salah who missed an early opportunity to smash the game wide open. From then on, Liverpool never really got going.
The 57-cap attacker endured a rare afternoon where nothing went in as none of his seven shots found the target, in sharp contrast to the red-hot form that has taken him to within Ian Rush’s all-time Anfield record for goals in a season.
He struggled to get into the game in open play, with only one trademark dribble and just the 40 touches throughout, as Paul Lambert continued his impressive Anfield record – he has never lost there to date.
Salah was also dispossessed twice by Stoke’s battling rearguard but he was surely just saving himself for the bigger test to come in midweek.